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No increase in sentence for man caught with cocaine at Dublin Airport

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A man stopped at Dublin Airport with €17,000 worth of cocaine has been spared an increased jail sentence despite an appeal by prosecutors.

Marcus Gantley (23), with an address at Poddle Close, Kimmage, Dublin 12, had pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to obstructing a peace officer, section 2 assault of a garda and two section 15 counts of possession of a controlled drug in separate incidents at various locations in the capital

He was given an effective three-year-sentence with the final 18 months suspended by Judge Sarah Berkeley on October 3, 2016.

The three-judge Court of Appeal said today that Gantley's sentence was “very lenient” but fell short of being “unduly lenient”, following an application for a review of sentence brought by the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Counsel for the DPP, Garrett McCormack BL, told the three-judge court that Gantley had come before the Circuit Court on three bill numbers: Firstly, on a charge of obstructing a peace officer in the execution of their duty.

Secondly, Mr McCormack said Gantley was charged with a section 2 assault of a garda when the garda was attempting to search Gantley. A “violent struggle” ensued in a Spar shop, Gantley was arrested, brought to a garda station, searched on foot of that, and was found to be in possession of €700 worth of heroin.

Finally, Gantley was found to be in possession of €17,000 worth of cocaine at Dublin Airport.

The court heard he was confronted by customs officers in relation to a black bag. He told the officers that his bag was silver but when the officers went to the CCTV, it showed Gantley checking in a black bag, the court heard.

Giving judgment in the Court of Appeal, Mr Justice Alan Mahon said a white powder underneath the top layer of clothing in the bag was found to be cocaine worth €17,000.

At the time of committing this offence, he was on bail for the previous two bill numbers, the judge said.

Mr Justice Mahon said Gantley's personal circumstances included a history of drug addiction. His lifestyle was desribed as “chaotic” and he was assessed as being at “high risk” or reoffending, the judge said. 

A disturbing aspect to the case, the judge said, was that the offences were committed over a relatively short period and his propensity to ignore bail conditions indicated a complete disregard for the law and the opportunities afforded to him.

Mr Justice Mahon said the offences ranked from relatively minor to moderately serious and the Circuit Court judge was required to sentence with a “global perspective”, with regard to the principles of totality and proportionality.

Mr Justice Mahon said the overall sentence of three years with the final 18 months suspended was “very lenient” but fell short of being “unduly lenient”.

He said the Court of Appeal recognised the judge's efforts to construct a sentence that did not offend the principles of totality and proportionality. The judge was clearly influenced by the desire to afford Gantley every opportunity, possibly the final opportunity, to rehabilitate himself.

Mr Justice Mahon, who sat with Mr Justice John Edwards and Mr Justice John Hedigan, said the court would therefore not interfere with the sentence and dismissed the DPP's application for a review.