under duress | 

Tallaght man forced to hold €74k of cannabis after men threatened to kill him jailed for two years

Judge Nolan said there had been coercion involved, but that Shane Finn (24) still had a responsibility not to break the law

Stock photo© Getty Images/Bloomberg Creative

Jessica MageeSunday World

A man who agreed to hold €74,000 worth of cannabis after masked men threatened to kill him in front of his child has been sentenced to two years in prison.

Shane Finn (24) of Killinarden Estate, Tallaght, Dublin 24 pleaded guilty to possessing the drugs for sale or supply at his home on July 17, 2021.

The court heard that Finn was also warned that his brother would be “cut up in prison” if he didn’t agree to hold the drugs.

Passing sentence at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, Judge Martin Nolan said there had been coercion involved, but that Finn still had a responsibility not to break the law.

Judge Nolan noted that the offence had been committed while Finn was on bail as part of a suspended sentence for a previous drug offence.

Giving evidence on Wednesday, Detective Garda Bernard Briody told Aideen Collard BL, prosecuting, that gardaí called to the accused’s house with a warrant while they were investigating a separate robbery matter concerning the accused’s brother, Jamie Finn.

Gardaí came upon the drugs stored in a black bag while searching the house, the court heard.

The accused immediately accepted responsibility for the cannabis and told gardaí he had been forced to hold them. He said he was told that his life and that of his family would be in danger if he didn't hold them.

Finn was arrested and told gardaí he did not know the men who had called to his door as they were wearing masks and also that he didn’t know the quantity of drugs in the bag.

“I was told to keep it or my brother would be cut up in prison and I’d be watched and killed in front of my child,” Finn told gardaí.

When asked why he thought he had been picked to hold the drugs, Finn replied: “I’d say it was because of my brother.”

Garda Briody said he believed Finn that he was under duress and noted that the accused has since moved away from Tallaght and has not come to any adverse garda attention. Finn has one previous conviction for the possession of cocaine and heroin.

Gda Briody agreed with Garret Baker SC, defending, that Shane Finn’s brother Jamie who is in custody is a “very different kettle of fish” and involved in a much higher level of criminal offending.

The garda further agreed that the accused has no trappings of wealth and had not been given a cent for holding the drugs; nor was he to be given any of the cannabis. On his arrest, Finn told gardaí he “couldn’t even afford chairs” in his house, the court heard.

Mr Baker said his client was a vulnerable, fragile person who had been preyed upon by sinister elements and found himself in a very difficult position.

The court was given medical reports showing that Finn has been suffered ongoing anxiety since he was a teenager and is currently on anti-psychotic medication.

Mr Baker said one of Finn’s brothers had died tragically from a drug-related illness and that his late father, who had severely physically abused Finn as a child, had also suffered from drug addiction.

The court heard that apart from occasional cannabis use, Finn had never reached the addiction levels of his brothers and father.

Letters were presented to the court from Finn’s partner and his mother which spoke highly of him. The court heard that Finn is in a stable relationship and has a three-year-old daughter from a previous relationship.

Judge Nolan said mitigation in the case was clear and included the threats made against Finn and his family, his guilty plea and his cooperation.

However, the judge said that Finn had already been given a considerable chance, and that it would be going much too far to give him a second suspended sentence.

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