Market traders were selling hundreds of prescription medicines at bric-a-brac stand.

Robert Burke and Liam Pacelli
Robert Burke and Liam Pacelli

TWO Dublin market traders have been spared jail sentences after getting caught selling more than one hundred different types of prescription drugs from their bric-a-brac stall.

The medication packs, priced at “two for €5”, included Alzheimer's disease and blood thinning medication, Dublin District Court was told.

Liam Pacelli (36) of Whitestown Crescent, in Blanchardstown, D15, was spared a criminal record and was given the benefit of the Probation Act after donating €1,000 to charity.

Co-defendant Robert Burke (33) of Westway View, Corduff, D.15 was ordered to carry out 200 hours of community service work. Each man must pay €2,000 in legal costs.

Judge John O'Neill said the it could have caused the death of someone. He noted that positive probation reports were furnished to the court and both men had pleaded guilty.

Pacelli was spared a conviction because he had a clean record while Burke had prior convictions for minor motoring offences as well a public order offence. Burke had also been given the Probation Act a number of years ago for obstructing a garda.

Both men had apologised in court and said they did not know what they were selling or the possible serious consequences.

The offences can result in fines of up to €2,000 as well as one-year in prison.

They pleaded guilty in a prosecution which followed an investigation by the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA).

They faced four charges for selling prescription only medicines: Warfarin anticoagulant tablets; Lyrica tablets which prevent seizures, Cymbalta medication which is used to treat anxiety and Donepezil Hydrochloride a drug used in the treatment of dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

Their fifth charge was for unlawfully selling Paralink suppositories which contains Paracetamol.

Judge O'Neill heard that a garda seized the packets of medicine from their "bric-a-brac" stall at the Balbriggan Market, in Balbriggan in north Co. Dublin on May 4, 2014.

They had various household goods on sale as well the medicinal products with a handwritten sign saying “two for €5”. They had sold about €200 worth before the garda spoke to them.

The garda seized 450 packets of medicinal products and contacted the HPRA, the court.

There were more than 150 different types of medicine of which 108 required a doctor's prescription.

The HPRA interviewed the two men and had five samples of the drugs tested. Ciaran Wright, an enforcement officer with the HPRA, told Judge O'Neill that neither defendant was a health care professional or a pharmacist.

Mr Wright said the various medications, which needed to be taken under medical supervision, had serious side affects: insomnia, dizziness, diarrhoea, agitation, dyspepsia, skin tissue disorder and hallucinations.

The Warfarin anticoagulant could result in significant bleeding in the event of a haemorrhage.

He agreed with prosecution counsel Brian Gageby that the medicines appear to have been for the Irish market but the HPRA have not yet established if they were originally stolen from a pharmacy or a wholesaler.

Both men were co-operative when questioned and had told him they did not know the seriousness of what they were selling, the court was told. The two men apologised in court and said they had bought the medication from another trader named John at a market in Athy for about €400.

The court heard they operated their stall to earn some money and most of their goods were household items.

Defence counsel Aoife McMahon asked the court to note the positive probation reports.

She said father-of-one Pacelli trains a youth football team and is planning on commencing a degree course in youth and community work but a criminal conviction would have catastrophic effect. He was found to be at a low risk of re-offending, she submitted.

Burke, a father-of-three, is an electrician and also needs to be vetted for work installing alarms in residences and business premises, the court heard in pleas for leniency.

His prior convictions were from several years ago, the barrister said.