D.P.P.-v- Derek Long, [2008] IECCA 133 (2008)

Docket Number:95CJA/08
Judge:Kearns J.
 
FREE EXCERPT

COURT OF CRIMINAL APPEAL

Kearns J.

Budd J.

Clark J.

[C.C.A. No. 95CJA of 2008]

IN THE MATTER OF SECTION 2 OF THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE ACT, 1993

BETWEEN

THE PEOPLE (AT THE SUIT OF THE DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC PROSECUTIONS)

APPLICANTAND

DEREK LONGRESPONDENT

JUDGMENT of the Court delivered on 31st October, 2008 by Kearns J.

This case raises a point of some considerable importance in the area of sentencing under s. 15(A) of the Misuse of Drugs Act, 1977 (as inserted by ss. 4 & 5 of the Criminal Justice Act 1999) and it is this: to what extent should the court take into account the quantity, value and type of drugs seized when determining the appropriate sentence?

The present case involves an application brought on behalf of the applicant under s.2 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1993 for a review of a sentence of two years imposed on the respondent in Dublin Circuit Court following his guilty plea to possession of drugs (in this case cocaine) having a street value of 111,370 on the 10th September, 2006 at Blackrock in the County of Dublin.

The factual circumstances may be briefly stated. On the basis of information received, members of the Garda Siochana carried out a search of the respondent's home on the 10th September, 2006 where they found 1,591 grams of cocaine with an uncontested street value of 111,370.

The respondent was born on the 10th November, 1985 and was thus twenty-one years of age at the time of the offence. The drugs were found in the respondent's family home and he was not present at the time of the search. On his return, the respondent was brought to the local garda station by his father where he made various admissions. He claimed to be holding the cocaine on behalf of another person to whom he owed 500 which was due for payment of debts in relation to cocaine he himself had consumed. While not accepting that he was addicted to drugs, the respondent did admit to consuming cocaine at weekends, consuming approximately two 100 bags of cocaine per week. The respondent, who is now nearly twenty-three years of age, is the youngest of a family of three children and resides with his parents. He left school at sixteen years of age and held a variety of different jobs.

There was evidence at the hearing of significant family difficulties in the background. The respondent's mother had a very severe history of depression with a number of attempted suicides. Following one such episode in March, 2005, the respondent himself became depressed and was put on medication. He was unable to find work in 2006 and began drinking heavily and using cocaine. During this period he ran up a series of debts which he could not repay.

At the sentencing hearing, a psychological report which had been compiled by Drs. Jeanine De Volder and Patrick Randall was made available to the Court as was a report from Dr. Kate O'Leary, the respondent's General Practitioner. These reports were relied upon to urge upon the sentencing judge that the respondent was an immature and vulnerable person with low self esteem who would be prone to abusing alcohol and drugs for those reasons. The Managing Director of a development company also gave evidence to state that the respondent had worked with his company between January and June, 2007 and had shown himself to be a helpful and co-operative worker who applied himself in assisting main contractors with painting and decorating. There was also evidence that the respondent had weaned himself off drugs from the time of the offence and had demonstrated signs of genuine remorse...

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