DPP v McGrath

CourtCourt of Appeal (Ireland)
JudgeMr. Justice McCarthy
Judgment Date25 January 2019
Neutral Citation[2019] IECA 67
Docket NumberRecord Number: 148/2018
Date25 January 2019

[2019] IECA 67


McCarthy J.

Birmingham P.

Edwards J.

McCarthy J.

Record Number: 148/2018

- AND –

Sentencing – Possession of cannabis – Severity of sentence – Appellant seeking to appeal against sentence – Whether sentence was unduly severe

Facts: The appellant, Ms McGrath, appealed to the Court of Appeal against the severity of a sentence of three and half years’ imprisonment imposed at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on an early plea of guilty to an offence of possession of cannabis and cannabis resin to the value of approximately €450.000 contrary to the s. 15A of the Misuse of Drugs Acts. The appellant’s grounds of appeal were that: (a) the sentence imposed was excessive and or disproportionate in all of the circumstances of the case; (b) the sentence imposed failed to take adequate account of the mitigating factors and the personal circumstances of the appellant; (c) the sentence failed to take sufficient account of the previous good character of the appellant; (d) the sentence failed to take account or full account of the early plea and the finding that the appellant was unlikely to commit a similar offence again; (e) the sentence failed to take full account of the fact that the prosecuting member himself accepted that in relation to the subject matter of the investigation/prosecution, the appellant’s life and that of her young son were put under threat; (f) a proper basis why the court was of the view that the appellant must serve a “substantial term” was not present notwithstanding the value of the drugs seized; (g) the sentence imposed did not reflect the fact that the court found that there was “strong mitigation in the case”.

Held by the Court that the moral culpability of an offence involving sale or supply of drugs contrary to the Misuse of Drugs Act is serious and that the Oireachtas has provided for a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years’ imprisonment. The Court noted that there is provision for departure from that mandatory minimum; the trial judge, in fact, departed very substantially from that mandatory minimum having decided that there were substantial mitigating factors present in the case. The Court held that the sentence the trial judge ultimately imposed could not be characterised as particularly severe and on the contrary, it very clearly fell within the available range....

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