The court heard Mahissat Anastacia Correia Djaura (24), who has been in custody since her arrest three months ago and must now leave the country on her release, was not the “mastermind” behind the offence.
Djaura, of Bentham Road, London, England, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to evasion of excise duty on the cigarettes at Terminal 1, Dublin Airport, on September 13, 2021. She has no previous convictions.
Judge Melanie Greally said Djaura was not the owner of the cigarettes or the “mastermind” of the offence. She noted her letter of remorse outlining her regret and that her family were disappointed by her actions.
She took into account that Djaura had found being in prison for the last few months a difficult and sobering experience and said hopefully she had learnt a lesson.
Judge Greally imposed an 18 month sentence and suspended the final 15 months on strict conditions, giving credit for time she has served to date.
A revenue officer told Geraldine Small BL, prosecuting, that Djaura had arrived from Lagos the previous night but her luggage did not arrive and she returned the next day to collect it. An x-ray of the baggage revealed an anomaly and when unpacked, 60,000 cigarettes were found without tax stamps.
Djaura was fully co-operative during interview. She said she lived in London and had bought the cigarettes for cash at a market in Lagos. She was to be paid 1,000 pounds for a person to collect them.
Lydia Daly BL, defending, said Djaura works as a carer in London, where she has lived with her family for the last 11 years, and has no addiction issues which reduces her likelihood to reoffend. She said she accepted responsibility and was remorseful
She said Djaura was under financial pressure and was a mule, not the mastermind behind the offence. She said Djaura was co-operative and had not been in trouble before. She asked the court to be as lenient as possible.