Teenage Prison Drug Smuggler Given One-Year Sentence

A Dublin teenager, who became the first person in the State to be charged with a newly designated offence for smuggling drugs into a prison, has been given a one-year sentence.

The teenage boy (aged 18) had pleaded guilty at the Dublin Children’s Court to possession of the diazepam tablets in the vicinity of St Patrick’s Institution with intent to commit an offence contrary to section 15 C of the Misuse of Drugs Act, at Royal Canal Bank, in Phibsborough, Dublin, on August 23 last. He was aged 17, a juvenile, when the offence occurred.

It relates to attempted smuggling of drugs into St Patrick’s Institution, a detention centre for males aged 16 to 21 years. Judge Catherine Murphy imposed a one-year sentence today but suspended it on condition that he is of good behaviour for the next two years. The court heard he had been in telephone contact with an inmate when he tried to throw the drugs over the wall of St Patrick’s Institution.

Detective Garda Niamh Coates, of Fitzgibbon Street station had told the court that: “I approached the accused who was trying to throw drugs over the wall into the yard of St Patrick’s Institution. He had an egg in his possession, there was 58 diazepam tablets concealed in it.”

The south Dublin boy has eight previous convictions for motor theft, attempted motor theft, dangerous driving and trespassing. He was recently released from serving a three-month sentence.

In mitigation defence solicitor Michelle Finan had said the teen had fallen out with his family. When he was in school he had been a good student who “once had an essay used as a model to help other pupils”.

Ms Finan said her client had acted “extremely foolishly” but had been in debt to a drug dealer at the time. “He was a pawn to a person he owes money and was sent down to throw this over. He [the defendant] got caught, owned up, pleaded guilty and will be punished.” She asked the judge to recognise that the boy was “at the lowest rung of the ladder”.

The teen told the court today that he “wanted to get his life back on track”. Diazepam is a controlled drug, is a sedative used to relieve anxiety and relax muscles.

The 2006 Criminal Justice Act brought into force the new offence of smuggling, or attempting to smuggle, drugs into a prison. It amended the 1977 Misuse of Drugs Act bringing in a new section stating that a person guilty of supply of controlled drugs into a prison or place of detention could face a possible fine of up to €3,000 or a sentence of up to 12 months if the case is dealt with at District Court level.

A person can be charged under the new law if they were arrested for conveying a controlled drug into a prison or children’s detention centre, for placing it there with the intention that it would come into the possession of an inmate or for throwing an illegal drug into a prison or detention centre.