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Dublin mum found with Tesco bag containing €240k worth of drugs avoids jail AGAIN

Kirsty Cummins, of Cooley Road, Drimnagh, Dublin. Pic: Paddy Cummins/Photo.ie© Paddy Cummins - PCPhoto.ie

Paul NeilanSunday World

A young mother who admitted having a shopping bag containing over €240k in drugs has again avoided jail, even after the Court of Appeal found that her original fully-suspended sentence was too lenient.

Kirsty Cummins was a teenager when she was found with a Tesco bag containing over €240,000 worth of cocaine and heroin and received a fully suspended four-year sentence in June 2021 at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

Cummins (20) was observed by gardaí entering a Dublin flat and emerging carrying a bag which was later found to contain approximately €70,000 worth of cocaine and approximately €172,000 worth of heroin.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard the accused, who had recently turned 18 at the time of the offence, was highly unlikely to have any “proprietary interest” in the drugs. The court heard she was pregnant at the time of her hearing.

Cummins, with an address at Cooley Road, Drimnagh, Dublin, pleaded guilty to possession of the drugs for sale or supply at Ballyfermot Road, Ballyfermot, on February 23, 2020. She had no previous convictions.

In response to the State's application against the undue leniency of the sentence at the Court of Appeal today, Keith Spencer BL, for Cummins, said his client had not come to any adverse attention since engaging with probation services and that her child had health issues.

Solicitor Lorraine Stephens, also for Cummins, said a positive probation report had been handed in to the court stating that her client was judged to be at low risk of reoffending.

Ms Stephens said that Cummins was a "very dedicated mother" and had gone into labour the day after her sentencing and that her son, who was prematurely born, had developmental difficulties.

Ms Stephens asked the three-judge court to consider a higher but fully suspended sentence for Cummins.

The solicitor said Cummins now "absolutely" had an insight into the damage the drug trade inflicts on society and that she had attended all appointments with support services.

Ms Stephens said that on the day, Cummins had taken the place of another person in taking possession of the bag.

Kirsty Cummins, of Cooley Road, Drimnagh, Dublin © Paddy Cummins - PCPhoto.ie

In re-sentencing Cummins today, Ms Justice Aileen Donnelly said the Court of Appeal had accepted the suspended sentence imposed on Cummins was unduly lenient but noted that matters had positively progressed for the respondent in the meantime.

At a previous hearing, the matter was adjourned to allow for a probation report on Cummins to be submitted to the court.

Ms Justice Donnelly said the State had argued that the suspended sentence had been unduly lenient in a case where a co-accused had been sentenced to three years' imprisonment.

The State said there was a "disparity" between the two sentences in a situation where the co-accused was of a similar age and also pregnant. The State also argued that too much weight had been put on Cummins' young age at the time of the offence.

Ms Justice Donnelly said that when committing the offence Cummins was an adult "in law" and was "not reckless in her role in transporting the drugs" as she knew what the bag contained.

However, Ms Justice Donnelly said there was substantial mitigation for Cummins in her lack of previous convictions, her guilty plea, remorse and insight into the offending. The judge also noted Cummins' psychological difficulties and the premature birth of a son with health issues for whom she is the sole carer.

The judge said that if the Court of Appeal had been involved in the original sentencing, Cummins would have received a four-year sentence with the final year suspended.

However, Ms Justice Donnelly said matters had since progressed in light of the positive probation report, that Cummins had taken various actions in the meantime and had distanced herself from "negative peers".

Ms Justice Donnelly said that "as of today" the court felt that the totality of all the factors in the case did amount to special reasons for justifying a wholly suspended sentence.

Cummins was re-sentenced to the same fully-suspended four years' imprisonment but had her time under the supervision of probation services increased from 18 months to three years.

At her sentence hearing, Detective Garda Mark O’Neill told Derek Cooney BL, prosecuting, that on the date in question, gardaí were observing the movements of a black Ford Focus in the Smithfield area of the north inner city, following the receipt of confidential information.

He said Cummins, along with two others, was observed entering the car outside of the Maldron hotel in Smithfield, where she had been socialising with a group of friends.

On leaving the hotel, the car was seen by gardaí entering St Michan’s House flat complex. Cummins entered a flat within the complex and returned to the car carrying a plastic Tesco bag.

The court heard that the car, with the accused sitting in the front passenger seat, was intercepted by gardaí in Ballyfermot.

Gardai conducted a search of the car, where they found the drugs inside the Tesco bag.

A co-accused of Cummins - the driver of the car - was jailed for three years after a subsequent Garda search at St Michan’s House found over €300,000 worth of cocaine and heroin.

Michael O’Higgins SC, defending, said that Cummins was from a “stable and loving” family, and that she had their “continuing support”.

In passing sentence, Judge Martin Nolan said it was highly unlikely she had any “proprietary interest” in the drugs.

Judge Nolan said Cummins had just turned 18 at the time and had a drug addiction. He said the court was aware of her pregnancy and took it into account.

He said the higher courts had indicated that a fully-suspended sentence in a case such as this should only be considered in “truly exceptional circumstances”. He said the only issue that allows him to consider “the ultimate step” in this case is the accused woman's age.

In imposing the original fully-suspended sentence, the judge said that since “time immemorial” courts have considered young people to be less mature and that it seems even 18-year-olds “can be very stupid”.


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