A MARKET trader has been sentenced to two years in prison for selling illegal cigarettes at a stall at the Milk Market.
Carol Collopy, 51, of Danesfort, Corbally, Limerick pleaded guilty to possession of nearly 37,000 cigarettes worth €15,250, which resulted in the loss of €9,430 to the Exchequer.
During a sentence hearing last week, the court was told the offences happened on dates between May 2, 2009 and July 14, 2010 when Ms Collopy was observed by undercover Revenue officers selling illegal cigarettes at a stall at the Milk Market.
Imposing sentence, Judge Carroll Moran noted that offences involving the sale of illegal cigarettes were becoming increasingly common. “It is a threat to the state’s collection of revenue and it is unfair on competitors who are compliant,” he said.
The judge added that it was a “great concern” to him that Collopy has two previous convictions for similar offences dating back to 2005.
After he imposed a two year prison sentence, the defendant - a divorced mother of two - broke down in the packed courtroom. “Please your honour, I am begging you, don’t do this to me, I can’t go to prison,” she said.
The court was forced to rise for a number of minutes as gardai and prison officers struggled to calm down the defendant who said her only concern was her ten-year-old daughter. “I will never come before the court again, I promise,” she said adding. “I can’t let her down, she needs me now more than ever.”
The judge said he was sorry but that he had no option but to jail her in the circumstances. However, following an application from Michael Collins BL, the judge agreed to put a stay on the sentence until 5pm on Thursday.