Tuesday 20 March 2018

Drug dealing jail term is quashed on technicality

Stephen Kelly of Maidens Lane.
Stephen Kelly of Maidens Lane.

A 12-year jail sentence handed down to a New Ross man who had been convicted for having over €240,000 in drugs has been quashed over a legal technicality after a judge cited a landmark case which took place after the sentence was imposed.

Stephen Kelly of Maidens Lane, New Ross, who denied possessing cannabis resin with a street value of at least €240,000 was found guilty by a jury at Wexford Circuit Criminal Court on October 20, 2009, of drugs possession, having drugs for sale or supply and unlawful possession of a controlled drug in New Ross in November 2005.

His conviction was quashed after the Court of Criminal Appeal heard that the judge who imposed the sentence had not informed the jury members that they had to be satisfied of the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Judge Alice Doyle had instead told the jury they could decide the case on the balance of probabilities and Kelly was found guilty.

The court heard there will be no re-trial as the appeal court was told the drugs involved in the case have been destroyed by gardaí.

During the trial in Wexford, evidence was given by a number of prosecution witnesses of a van coming into a housing estate at the bottom of Irishtown and proceeding to Mons Terrace. The court heard the van was then directed into the driveway by Kelly, from where parcels of cannabis resin were transferred to another car in a garage.

Sentencing Stephen Kelly at Wexford Circuit Criminal Court on January 26, 2010, Judge Doyle had described drugs as the curse of society and said had the large amount of cannabis resin connected with the case would have caused 'further devastation' had it reached the streets.

During his sentencing hearing, Kelly's barrister Liam Stafford said the defendant led a modest lifestyle, his only expense being addiction to heroin.

New Ross Standard