A Brazilian rickshaw driver who was ordered to go home or spend a year in prison for dealing ecstasy tablets is believed to still be in Ireland three years later and collecting the Pandemic Unemployment Payment.
Bianca Francisco (24) did not appear at the Court of Appeal on Tuesday morning where she was due to appeal her sentence. Her barrister Luigi Rea BL said she lodged the appeal because she wants to stay in Ireland but a solicitor had been unable to contact her and he couldn't explain her failure to appear. He suggested that she may have left the country.
Anne Collins, state solicitor acting for the Director of Public Prosecutions, said gardai believe Francisco is still living in Ireland as she has been collecting Pandemic Unemployment Payments.
Mr Justice John Edwards, sitting with Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy and Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy, struck out the appeal. Mr Justice Edwards said: "There is a suspended sentence with conditions and, if the view is that she is in breach of a term of her suspended sentence, it’s a matter for the director." Under section 99 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006 a court can revoke a suspended sentence and send a person to prison if they breach the terms of the suspension.
Francisco, with an address at The Forge, Railway Street, Dublin was working as a rickshaw driver when, on May 4, 2017, she was caught with more than €4,000 worth of ecstasy tablets in her flat. The court heard that Francisco, who pleaded guilty to unlawful possession for sale or supply of a controlled substance at her home, was on bail at the time awaiting sentence for a previous offence of holding drugs for sale or supply in November 2016.
In February 2018 Garda Cian Fleming told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court that during the search of Francisco's flat, gardai also seized weighing scales in a handbag and a white purse containing a total of €1,060 in various denominations.
Francisco told gardaí she was holding the drugs for somebody and said she was not being paid. Gda Fleming said Francisco was the target of the search in 2017 and that her work as a rickshaw driver was what first brought her to garda attention.
Luigi Rea BL, defending, said his client came to Ireland in April 2016 to learn English and began working as a cleaner but lost that job. He said she got a job as a rickshaw driver but fell in with bad company.
Judge Patrick Quinn accepted Francisco was embarrassed and ashamed by her crimes. He said her involvement probably came out of economic necessity but that was not an excuse.
“A young person in a strange country who meets up with the wrong people can easily get distracted,” he said.
He said it was in her best interests to return to the support of her family and suspended a 12-month prison sentence on condition that Francisco leave Ireland within three months.
At the Court of Appeal on Tuesday Mr Rea said Francisco had entered a bond to leave the country but then decided to appeal the sentence as she wished to remain in Ireland.
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