Visitors to Portlaoise prison pressured to bring drugs to inmates

Accused claim they were put under pressure to bring in drugs

Visitors to Portlaoise prison pressured to bring drugs to inmates

A number of people before last week’s district court charged with bringing drugs into the Midlands Prison claimed that they were put under pressure by criminals to bring the items in.

Four separate cases came before Judge Fiona Lydon at Portlaoise District Court last Thursday, July 27, one of which involved a man of 67.

First up was James O’Sullivan (67), with an address at Gurranabraher, Cork.

Inspector Aidan Farrelly said that on July 10, 2017, the accused was stopped at the Midlands Prison and found to have a small phone charger and €20 of cannabis.

He cooperated fully when arrested and said he intended passing the items to someone in the prison.

The accused had previous convictions, from 1968 up to 1997, including sexual assault, larceny, and assaults.

Defence, Ms Josephine Fitzpatrick said her client had been visiting his son in prison and he was put under pressure to bring the items in.

The package was not destined for his son, said defence, and the accused has since been precluded from visiting him.

Ms Fitzpatrick said he was not a drug user, but because of his age he is on medication as he does not enjoy good health.

Judge Fiona Lydon said it had been quite some time since the accused was involved in the court process, but noted that when he was involved it had been at the upper end.

She said that he was now suffering to some extent from not being allowed to visit his son and there was no chance of his repeating the offence.

The judge convicted and fined the accused €150.

In a separate case, Stacy O’Dwyer (32), with a listed address at Windsor Lodge, North Road, Drogheda, was charged.

Inspector Farrelly gave evidence that the accused was stopped and searched at the Midlands Prison on May 18 this year, and found to have 7g of heroin worth €460, cannabis valued at €20, and various tablets including valium worth €60.

She was fully cooperative and admitted trying to bring the drugs in to give to her uncle.

She had no previous convictions.

Defence, Ms Louise Troy said her client, a mother of two whose children were residing with the accused's mother, was homeless at the moment and living in B+Bs.

Judge Lydon put the matter back to October 12 for defence to provide paperwork proving the accused was homeless.

Also charged was Samantha Osbourne (25), Basin Street Flats, Dublin 8.

Inspector Farrelly gave evidence that the accused was detected at the Midlands Prison on June 29 with a concealed package containing cannabis and heroin with a total value of €1,500.

She had no previous convictions.

Defence, Ms Louise Troy said her client, who was visiting an ex-boyfriend in jail, had been pressurised into bringing in the drugs by receiving phone calls from a private number.

The windows of her house were also smashed, which she reported to the garda, said Ms Troy.

The accused was convicted and fined €150.

And in a separate matter, Kate Shannon (26), Barron Park, Clonmel, was charged.

Inspector Aidan Farrelly gave evidence that the accused was detected at the Midlands Prison on July 17 with a package hidden in her undergarments, containing tablets and cannabis resin to a total of €430.

The accused had previous convictions, including theft and drugs offences.

Defence, Mr Philip Meagher said that his client had been visiting a friend in jail, whose ex-associates became aware she was visiting him.

Two of these associates arrived at the home of the accused’s mother and said in no uncertain terms that the package would be arriving, with the package to be given to someone in the prison.

She foolishly agreed to bring the package in and didn’t report it to the gardaí as she feared for her safety and her mum’s, said Mr Meagher.

Saying that other options had been available to the accused when these people approached her, Judge Lydon convicted and fined her €350, and bound her to the peace for 12 months.