A Portarlington woman threatened by drug dealers into storing over €35,000 of cocaine in her home has been given a suspended prison sentence at Portlaoise Circuit Court.
Judge Keenan Johnson said that Margaret Singleton (48) was not an inherently criminal or bad person, she just made a bad decision, when he imposed a five-year sentence, suspended for ten years.
The accused was charged under section 15A of the Misuse of Drugs Act, at her home at The Glen, Kilnacourt Wood, Portarlington, on August 25, 2017.
Sgt Brian Farrell gave State’s evidence, led by State barrister, Mr Will Fennelly, that the gardaí attended the accused’s house on that date to conduct a search. A juvenile was in the house and the accused arrived home some time after.
Sgt Farrell said the accused told gardaí she would show them where everything was and she handed over packages of cocaine, before the gardaí located other packages of the drug in the house.
Sgt Farrell said the total amount of cocaine was 510 grams, worth a value of €35,763.
Sgt Farrell said that the accused was providing storage, with the packages secreted in the house.
When arrested and interviewed, the accused said she had been an occasional cocaine user, but she developed a drug debt and her house was used to store the cocaine.
The accused was threatened and people came to her house. Sgt Farrell said that the accused had claimed she wasn’t even aware of one package of cocaine found above a press in her house, and Sgt Farrell told the court he believed her.
“People were coming in and hiding cocaine,” said Sgt Farrell, going on to say that the accused had been concerned for her own safety and the safety of her two sons.
Judge Keenan Johnson asked him was he satisfied the accused had just been storing the cocaine and not supplying it.
Sgt Farrell replied that he was, repeating that people were coming into the accused’s house and storing the drugs.
Defence for the accused said that she was very susceptible to manipulation. She had been a drug user but not an addict and has now learnt a very significant lesson.
Defence said that the accused’s name was used to place a drugs order and the debt ballooned from €200 to €1,800.
The accused was assaulted by dealers and a gun was put to her head in front of her children, said defence, adding that the accused had been greatly relieved when the gardaí called to her door.
Defence said the accused had clearly been exploited by the drug dealers and had been terrorised, fearing for her life.
Judge Johnson imposed a five-year sentence, suspended for ten years on condition the accused enter into a peace bond to keep the peace for ten years.