DPP v Troy

 
FREE EXCERPT

[2014] IECA 44

THE COURT OF APPEAL

Ryan P.

Mahon J.

Edwards J.

171/13

The People at the Suit of the Director of Public Prosecutions
and
Marie Troy
Appellant

Criminal law - Appeal against severity of sentence - Possession of controlled drug for the purpose of selling or supplying to another - Cannabis, cocaine and amphetamines - Term of imprisonment of four years - Summary disposal - Whether trial judge erred in principle

Facts The appellant sought to appeal against severity of sentence. She was sentenced to a term of four years imprisonment for possession of controlled drugs with intention to supply, namely cannabis, cocaine and amphetamines. The drugs had a monetary value of €900, €304 and €16 respectively. The appellant was sentenced for said offences following her conviction by a jury to which she had pleaded not guilty. Before the case came on for sentencing, a second case involving the appellant also came on before the same Circuit Court. In the second case, the appellant pleaded guilty to a further three counts of possession for controlled drugs for the purpose of selling or otherwise supplying them to another. She was sentenced to a period of two years imprisonment on all counts to run concurrently with the four years that she received in respect of the first case. The appeal was solely in respect of the sentence imposed in the first case. It was submitted that because the Director of Public Prosecutions was prepared to consent to summary disposal in the District Court that the appropriate tariff for the case was no more than twelve months imprisonment (that being the maximum tariff) and that in the circumstances it was an error of principle for the learned judge to then proceed to sentence her to four years imprisonment. Conversely, it was argued that the appellant was apprised of her options in regard to whether or not the matter would be dealt with in the District Court and made her choice on an informed basis.

Held The learned trial judge measured the seriousness of the offence at four years, and did so in circumstances where he correctly identified both the aggravating and the mitigating features of the case. The court could not find any error in principle in terms of sentencing. The argument that because the DPP had been prepared to consent to summary disposal in the event of a plea, that the Circuit Court judge was precluded from imposing a sentence in excess of twelve months imprisonment was manifestly wrong. The proper and appropriate sentence had been imposed and the judge found no error of principle.

-Appeal dismissed; sentence of Circuit Court confirmed

Judgment of the Court (ex tempore) delivered on the 15th day of December 2014 by Mr. Justice Edwards
1

This is an appeal against the severity of the sentence imposed on this appellant on the 1st of July 2013, at Limerick Circuit Criminal Court in respect of four counts of being in possession, on the 22nd of December 2010, of controlled drugs for the purpose of selling or otherwise supplying them to another. The drugs in question comprised five pieces of cannabis resin, a block of cannabis and smaller quantities' of cocaine and amphetamines, the monetary value of the cannabis being €900, the cocaine being €304 and the amphetamines €16.

2

The trial judge sentenced the appellant to a term of imprisonment of four years on Count No 1, backdated to the date of her remand in custody, which was the 17th May, 2013, and took the other counts into consideration. It requires to be stated that the appellant was sentenced for these matters following her conviction by a jury on the 17th of May 2013, and that she had pleaded not guilty.

3

Before this case came on for sentencing, a second case involving the appellant also came on before the same Circuit Court. In this second case, the appellant pleaded guilty to a further three counts of possession for controlled drugs for the purpose of selling or otherwise supplying them to another. In this instance, the drugs were cocaine, amphetamine and cannabis, and the value of the cocaine amounted to €848, the value of the cannabis amounted to €304 and the value of the amphetamine amounted to €295.

4

Accordingly, the appellant was sentenced in respect of both cases at the same time. In respect of the second case, the appellant was sentenced to a period of two years imprisonment on all counts to run concurrently with the four years that she received in respect of the offences to which she had pleaded not guilty and had been convicted by a jury. The sentence in the second case was also backdated to the same date as the other matter, namely to the 17th May, 2013.

5

The appeal lies only in respect of the sentence imposed in the first case, i.e., the matters committed on the 22nd of December 2010 in respect of which the appellant was convicted by the jury and for which she received four years. There is no appeal in respect of the sentence in the second case. The sentencing in respect of both matters is dealt with on the one transcript.

6

One of the grounds of appeal is based upon the fact that when the first case was before the District Court at an early stage of the criminal proceedings, the appellant had been made aware that the Director of Public Prosecutions was prepared to consent to summary disposition of the case in the District Court in the event that it was her intention to take a certain course, namely to plead guilty. She was made aware of that fact before the matter came on in the District Court and in the event she elected to plead not guilty as was her absolute entitlement. The matter was returned for trial to the Circuit Court, the trial proceeded before a jury, she was convicted, and she was subsequently sentenced to the sentence now under appeal.

7

The case is made that because the Director of Public Prosecutions was prepared to consent to summary disposal in the District Court on a certain basis that the appropriate tariff for the case was no more than twelve months imprisonment, being the maximum that the District Court could have imposed, and that in circumstances where she opted to go forward for trial to the Circuit Court it was an error of principle for the learned judge to then proceed to sentence her to four years imprisonment.

8

There were copious references in the course of the submissions to the appellant being penalised for having exercised her right to go forward for trial. The Court rejects any such suggestion as being unfounded and untenable. There is simply no evidence to support any suggestion of the sentencing judge having been so motivated.

9

The more appropriate question for this Court to have to consider is whether or not the learned trial judge in proceeding to sentence her to four years was in error in failing to take into account what had happened in the District Court and in treating the case as being one that merited a sentence of four years...

To continue reading

REQUEST YOUR TRIAL