Man caught with 2.2kg of cocaine in car wins appeal

Jail term cut
Jail term cut

A UK national caught carrying 2.2kg of cocaine in the door panel of a car at Dublin Port has had his jail term cut on appeal.

Anthony Atkinson (49), from Queensbury, Bradford, in the UK, had pleaded guilty to possessing €155,000 worth of cocaine for sale or supply at Dublin Port on October 31, 2014.

He was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment with the final three suspended by Judge Mary Ellen Ring on April 7, 2014.

Atkinson successfully appealed his sentence yesterday and accordingly, the Court of Appeal resentenced him to 10 years imprisonment with the final four-and-a-half years suspended.

Mr Justice Alan Mahon, giving the court's judgment, said Atkinson arrived into Dublin Port in a vehicle that was stopped by customs officers and on two occasions he denied there was anything hidden in the car.

Following a search, the drugs were found concealed in a door panel on the passenger side of the vehicle, the judge said.

He admitted to having knowingly transported the drugs on the explanation that he had a drugs debt and was engaged to bring the drugs into Ireland in return for cancellation of the drug debt in whole or in part, Mr Justice Mahon said.

The court heard he had 42 previous convictions in total including a number of drugs convictions. Mr Justice Mahon said they generally involved small amounts of drugs.

Mr Justice Mahon said the Court of Appeal was satisifed that there were and are circumstances which justified departing from the manadatory minimum sentence of 10 years imprisonment for possession of drugs worth more than €13,000.

These were his early plea, his admissions to gardaí, his on-and-off drug addiction since 1992 and the extent to which he had sought treatment for that.

Furthermore, his status as a foreign national meant his time in prison would be particularly difficult because he had no friends of family in Ireland, the judge said.

Mr Justice Mahon said two of the mitigating factors deserved mention on the basis that they did not appear to have attracted sufficient weight.

These were the fact that he went forward from the District Court on a signed plea of guilty and the extent to which he was under a degree of coercion.

The signed plea was of immense importance to the courts system in assisting in the early disposal of cases, he said.

The court also noted Atkinson's impressive efforts to usefully apply his time in prison by partaking in numerous education courses.

Mr Justice Mahon, who sat with Mr Justice George Birmingham and Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan, resentenced Atkinson to 10 years imprisonment with the final four-and-a-half years suspended.