A WOMAN was forced to smuggle cocaine into the country because her mother was being held for ransom, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court has heard.
Suella Joseph (23) was caught with more than €150,000 worth of the drug which she had smuggled from her home country of St Lucia, in the West Indies.
Her mother had previously attempted to smuggle another batch of cocaine but lost the drugs in transit. She was being held in Ireland until her daughter brought over a replacement batch as a "ransom".
Joseph will spend just two more months in prison before being deported.
Judge Desmond Hogan called it a "strange" case but accepted her explanation for the smuggling. He imposed a seven-year term, but suspended six years of it. He also backdated the sentence to when she went into custody last January, meaning she will be released this January. On her release she will have 48 hours to leave the country.
Joseph, of Castries, Saint Lucia, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possession of the drugs for sale or supply at the Travel Lodge in Swords on January 13, 2011.
Garda Lorraine Brennan said that Joseph's mother transported the cocaine into the country for a drugs gang but it was lost in transit. The gang would not let the mother leave the country until Joseph came over with a "ransom" of another batch of cocaine. Joseph agreed and was given two suitcases in St Lucia with €151,800 of the drug hidden in the lining.
By the time she flew to Ireland, gardai had been given a confidential tip-off and were waiting for her at the airport.
They saw her pick up the suitcases from baggage claim and followed her to the Travel Lodge in Swords where her mother was staying. Once she was in her mother's room, gardai moved in, arrested Joseph and seized the cocaine.
Joseph said in interview that she knew the gardai were on to her because "my spirit didn't feel right and the atmosphere was strange".
She said she agreed to transport the cocaine because she thought her mother was "in great danger".
Garda Brennan told Mr Michael Bowman, prosecuting, that she accepted Joseph's account of events. Caroline Biggs, defending, said Joseph worked as a hairdresser in St Lucia and has two infant children.
Counsel said her client has a lower that average IQ but Judge Hogan commented that her letter of apology is "quite cogent".
Ms Biggs added that Joseph entered an early guilty plea and has shown genuine remorse.