A MOTHER who was caught transporting almost a kilogramme of cannabis in order to pay a drugs debt owed by her son will begin a two year prison sentence next week.
Margaret Purcell, aged 47, of Moylish Road, Ballynanty, pleaded guilty to possession of the drugs - worth €11,930.40 - for the purpose of sale or supply on November 10, 2011.
During a sentencing hearing, Garda Peter Colleran said he was on routine patrol at Lee Estate shortly before 7pm when he observed the defendant leaving a house carrying a plastic shopping bag and a paper bag.
He became suspicious as she got into a taxi and he told the court she was “visibly nervous and extremely shaky” when he approached the vehicle.
When asked what was in the bags, Purcell replied it was “just dirty washing”.
Garda Colleran said one of the bags appeared to contain clothes but he added that he subsequently found a vacuum packed-bag containing the drugs hidden inside a cushion.
Following her arrest, Purcell told gardai she had been given the drugs outside a Limerick hotel earlier that day and that she had been told to drop the package off at the green area near Ballynanty community centre after dark.
Garda Colleran accepted that Ms Purcell has been put under “ferocious pressure” by other individuals to transport the drugs in order to repay a drugs debt owed by her son who was in prison at the time.
Brendan NIX SC said his client, who has no previous convictions, was not being paid to transport the drugs and he said she believed her life and that of her son were in danger.
“She was a sprat being cobbled up by these rats,” Mr Nix said adding that his client - a local authority tenant - would lose her home if sent to prison.
Imposing sentence, Judge Carroll Moran said such cases are “really dreadful” and he said “drugs are a much maligned influence on society in Ireland and they are everywhere.”
He said the courts had been instructed to deal with drugs cases appropriately and he sentenced Purcell to two years imprisonment,
The judge put a stay on the committal warrant and the defendant was ordered to present herself at Henry Street garda station by 1pm next Thursday, February 22.