DPP v Barrett

Judgment Date19 May 2003
Neutral Citation2003 WJSC-CCA 2924
CourtCourt of Criminal Appeal
Date19 May 2003

2003 WJSC-CCA 2924


Fennelly J.

Murphy J.

McKechnie J.



DPP V CUNNINGHAM 2002 2 IR 712 2003 1 ILRM 124



Drugs offences

Sentencing - Mitigating circumstances - Whether conclusions of trial judge incorrect - Whether sentence imposed unduly severe - Misuse of Drugs Acts, 1977 - 1984 (59/2003 - Court of Criminal Appeal - 19/5/2003)

People (DPP) v Barrett

Facts: The applicant sought leave to appeal against his sentence for drugs offences. A quantity of drugs had been found in the applicant’s house. The trial judge had drawn the conclusion that the applicant had been involved in drug dealing and had taken this into account into passing sentence. The applicant had pleaded guilty and had received concurrent terms of two years imprisonment.

Held by the Court of Criminal Appeal in reducing the sentence. There was an error in principle by the conclusions drawn by the trial judge. There was no evidence that the applicant had been involved in drug dealing. Given the good character of the applicant and the fact that it was a first offence the court would impose a suspended sentence and a fine of €€,000 to be paid within six months of the date of the order.

Reporter: R.F.


JUDGMENT of the Court (ex tempore) delivered on the19th day of May, 2003 by FENNELLY J.

1. Ruling

We have found it necessary to give an interim ruling at this stage of the hearing of this application for leave to appeal and this is in the light of the decision of the Supreme Court in the DPP v. Francis Cunningham (unreported 8 th October 2002) which dealt with the issue of the right of this court to receive evidence in mitigation of facts and circumstances that came into existence between the date of the sentence in the court of trial and the hearing of the application for leave to appeal. In that case the court ruled that, since the function of this court is to review sentence, that that jurisdiction is to be exercised on the basis of whether or not the trial judge has committed an error in principle and that, since that can only be determined by reference to the date when the sentence was imposed, this court cannot hear evidence relating to mitigating factors subsequent to the date of the imposition of the sentence unless and until it comes to the conclusion that there has been an error in principle. This does not necessarily mean that in every case it is going to be necessary to divide the hearing in that fashion but it does appear to the court appropriate to do it in this case.


Now the issue of the error in principle in this case surrounds the question of whether the learned trial judge committed an error in reaching the conclusion that the applicant had been involved in drug dealing which is unequivocally what he concluded. The applicant had been inconsistent in the admissions he had made to the gardai, at one stage saying that he had the drugs in question for the purpose of the use by himself and his friends over a weekend away and later withdrawing that and saying they were exclusively for his own use. However, the learned judge came to the conclusion that neither of these explanations was the complete one and said "I am certainly satisfied that … you were involved in drug dealing". The striking thing about that is that although there was an issue of controversy concerning certain lists found in the house (and in fact a list of names of people was mistakenly and, as is conceded, certainly bona fide, produced by the prosecution in the course of the hearing) that did not relate to the applicant and was explicitly withdrawn as being irrelevant to the case by the prosecution before the judge had imposed sentence, so that what the judge was doing was inferring from the general circumstances, the quantities...

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2 cases
  • DPP v Cuan de Paor and Another
    • Ireland
    • Court of Criminal Appeal
    • 19 December 2008
    ......It is clear from all the authorities that this latter aspect is a matter of great importance, described as “absolutely crucial” by Fennelly J. in DPP v. Barrett (CCA unreported 19th May, 2003), in suspending a two year sentence imposed on conviction for the supply of a controlled substance contrary to s.15 of the Mis-use of Drugs Act, 1977 as amended. . 34 The Court would observe that, contrary to the written submissions of the ......
  • DPP v Andrew Gaffney
    • Ireland
    • Court of Criminal Appeal
    • 18 October 2010
    ...... [160/10] DPP v Gaffney [2010] IECCA 104 BETWEEN: THE PEOPLE AT THE SUIT OF THE DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC PROSECUTIONS RESPONDENT V ANDREW GAFFNEY APPLICANT MISUSE OF DRUGS ACT 1977 S15 DPP v BARRETT UNREP CCA 19.5.2003 2003/13/2924 CRIMINAL LAW Sentence Drugs - Error in principle - Taking other offences into account -Immediate custodial sentence - Special circumstances - Good character - First offence - Partly suspended sentence - Low end of scale - Whether error in failing to ......

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