Man with brain injury brought 40kgs of drugs into Dublin Airport

khat (Stock image)
khat (Stock image)

A "particularly vulnerable" man with a brain injury who brought almost 40kgs of the drug khat into Dublin Airport from Kenya will be sentenced tomorrow morning.

Shire Ali (41), a Somalian who has been living in Sweden for 16 years, travelled to Africa on what he thought was a holiday but he was sent back with bags containing the drugs after just two days.

Khat is a north African plant which has an amphetamine-like stimulant effect when chewed. It was outlawed in Ireland in 2014 and is also a controlled drug in the United Kingdom.

Ali, of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possession of khat at Terminal Two in Dublin Airport on June 24, 2016. He has no previous convictions and has been in custody here since his arrest.

The court heard that Ali was stopped by customs officials as he was transiting through Dublin Airport on his way from Nairobi to Glasgow. His two suitcases were searched and 38.3 kilograms of khat with a value of €7,660 was found.

Ali told gardai that he was given the bags by a man in Kenya and asked to travel to Glasgow. He had travelled to Nairobi on the understanding he was getting a holiday in Africa.

He said he did not realise he was carrying khat and his travel back to Sweden was to be arranged for him. He had no money on him when arrested.

Dara Hayes BL, prosecuting, told the court that three similar cases with similar travel itineraries have come before the courts in recent times.

James Dwyer BL, defending, said Ali had suffered an inter-cranial haemorrhage in 2008 leaving him with cognitive difficulties and meaning he needed assistance over and above the norm to manage his life.

He handed in a psychologist's report and told the court that Ali was a particularly vulnerable person.

Mr Dwyer said Ali, who had been a farmer in Somalia, had travelled overland from the horn of Africa in difficult circumstances in the early 2000s. He has lived in Sweden, where he has asylum status and a legal custodian, for 16 years.

Judge Melanie Greally adjourned sentencing until tomorrow to see if arrangements could be put in place to allow Ali return to Sweden.

Fiona Ferguson