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Limerick TD sought leniency for convicted drug dealer

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A JUDGE has been urged not to place any weight on a letter submitted by Deputy Niall Collins in support of a convicted drug dealer.

A JUDGE has been urged not to place any weight on a letter submitted by Deputy Niall Collins in support of a convicted drug dealer.

The handwritten letter was put forward as mitigation by lawyers representing Hugo Porter, 40, of St Patrick’s Villa’s, Castleconnell.

The father-of-four pleaded guilty earlier this year to possession of quantities of cannabis and cannabis resin for the purpose of sale or supply.

The drugs, which had a street value of almost €18,000 were recovered by gardai in a field at Garden Hill, Castleconnell on June 24, 2011.

Mr Porter also faces the possibility of having to serve a two year prison sentence which was suspended in 2009 after he pleaded guilty to a ‘glassing’ offence in county Clare in 2006.

This week, Judge Carroll Moran was told Mr Porter was the sole carer of his four young children as his wife had died in tragic circumstances earlier this year.

Michael Collins BL, defending, submitted the family circumstances of the accused man place the case in the “exceptional category”.

He said this was supported by the fact that Deputy Collins had written a letter to the court pleading for leniency.

In the letter, which was not read out in court, the Fianna Fail spokesman on justice urged the sentencing judge not to impose a prison sentence given Mr Porter’s circumstances.

The letter, which was dated last month, was written on official headed paper and included Niall Collins’ photograph and contact details.

John O’Sullivan BL, prosecuting, urged the judge “not to attach too much weight” to the letter, which was submitted by Deputy Collins.

He said the practice of public representatives writing to sentencing judges was “not uncommon” in the recent past but that it is longer commonplace.

“Fortunately that practice has ceased,” he said reiterating his view that the letter and its contents should not be considered as part of the sentencing process.

Mr O’Sullivan said he had no difficulty with the evidence of Peace Commissioner, Frank Ryan, who gave evidence on behalf of Mr Porter.

Mr Ryan urged Judge Moran not to impose a custodial sentence on humanitarian grounds.

He said Mr Porter comes from a “decent, hard-working family” who have settled in the Castleconnell area.

Mr Ryan, who said he does not condone what Mr Porter did, told the court the defendant is a “terrific father” and that his children are at age “where they need a parent”.

Judge Moran said the case was causing him some difficulty as the matters before the court are serious.

He adjourned the case to October to facilitate the completion of a report from social services in relation to Mr Porter’s children.

According to media reports this morning, Mr Collins, has said he will be not be commenting on the letter or its contents as the case of Hugo Porter is still before the courts.

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