Suspended sentence for 'vulnerable' man caught with 40kg of khat in Dublin Airport
A “particularly vulnerable” man with a brain injury who brought almost 40kgs of the drug khat into Dublin Airport from Kenya has been given a suspended sentence on condition he leave the country.
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 importation and 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.
On Friday defence counsel, James Dwyer BL, told the court arrangements were being put in place to book a flight to Stockholm for Ali which would leave Saturday.
Judge Melanie Greally noted that Ali was a “very vulnerable target” and that it seemed he had been tempted by the prospect of a free holiday which was to be his sole payment.
She said Ali was subject to something akin to a wardship order in Sweden and was someone who faced considerable challenges in conducting ordinary affairs.
Judge Greally said she did not see any benefit to the State or to Ali in keeping him in custody beyond what he has already served. She imposed a two and a half year sentence and suspended the balance on condition that he leave the country within 72 hours.
Sergeant Cheryl O'Dwyer told Dara Hayes BL, prosecuting, 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.
Mr Hayes told the court that three similar cases with similar travel itineraries have come before the courts in recent times.
Mr Dwyer 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.
In a separate case before the court on Friday another man Kirill Kirjusetskin (25) with an address in Laanemaa, Estonia, pleaded guilty to importation and possession of khat at Dublin Airport on August 16, 2016.
Judge Greally remanded Kirjusetskin in continuing custody and set a sentence date early next month when full facts will be heard in the case.