Dublin father-of-four caught transporting €44k worth of drugs avoids jail

CourtsBy Sunday World
James Murphy
James Murphy

A father-of-four who was caught with over €44,000 worth of cannabis in the boot of his vehicle after gardaí stopped him for "erratic driving" has been given a five-year suspended sentence.

James Murphy (37) told gardai he had just smoked a joint two hours previously but the vehicle was searched when the officer got a strong smell of cannabis.

Murphy of John Street South, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to having cannabis, valued at €44,712 for sale or supply on Navan Road, Dublin 7 on February 23, 2014. A further stash of cannabis, worth €404, was found in a follow-up search of his home.

His seven previous convictions include larceny, road traffic convictions and one for possession of drugs.

Garda Paul Doona told Sinead McMullan BL, prosecuting, that when asked what was in the holdall in the boot, Murphy replied: "Sunday World magazines. I am going to be killed."

He told gardai during interview: "I am going to get shot. That's how it works, play by the sword, die by the sword."

Murphy said he had agreed to transport the drugs "from A to B” for a "bit of weed". He said he was spending €50 per week on cannabis having overcome a heroin addiction years previously.

Judge Melanie Greally said on "cold analysis of the evidence" the case would warrant a custodial sentence but said Murphy had taken all steps which "are humanly possible to rehabilitate himself".

"It appears that there are very considerable positives operating in his favour. He has taken sustained and committed steps to addressing his addiction to cannabis and other risks factors in his own life," Judge Greally said. She noted that Murphy had taken "similar steps to conquer a previous heroin habit".

She said she was also taking into account that reports before the court confirmed that Murphy was intellectually operating at a low level and his "decision-making abilities are somehow less than they might otherwise be".

Judge Greally suspended a five-year term on strict conditions including that Murphy carry out 240 hours community service and engage with the Probation Service for 18 months.

The earlier sentencing hearing heard that Murphy told gardai he worked as a courier and was in debt because of his drug habit. He said he wasn't able to pay his suppliers.

"I want to get away from cannabis and get back to a normal life," he told gardai.

Gda Doona agreed with Sean Gillane SC, defending, that his client would never have been caught had it not been for his "erratic driving".

He said he had been on routine patrol when he spotted the vehicle changing lanes without indicating and driving erratically. Murphy pulled over when he instructed him to do so.

Mr Gillane told Judge Greally that his client was "easy prey to others because he owed money and had access to a vehicle".

"He couldn't even execute that task without coming to the attention of the traffic police," counsel added.

Sonya McLean