A CARPENTER who was jailed for his role in the importation of more than €1 million worth of cannabis successfully appealed the severity of the sentence imposed on him.
Almost 60kgs of cannabis herb were seized when gardai searched a rented cottage at Annagh, Lisnagry following a surveillance operation on May 25, 2012.
Shane Ferguson, aged 47, who has an address at Meadowbrook, Mill Road, Corbally was sentenced to seven years imprisonment last year while his co-accused – Kieran Nevin, aged 38, of Oliver Plunkett Street, St Mary’s Park – was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment.
During a sentencing hearing, Limerick Circuit Court was told several boxes containing the drugs had been flown by UPS from Eindhoven in the Netherlands to Northern Ireland via Germany and Great Britain.
Ferguson – an unemployed carpenter – hired a van in Limerick, insured it and drove to Newry where he met another man on the outskirts of a residential area.
The man brought him to a house in Poyntspass, where he collected five large boxes, containing the drugs before transporting them to the small rented cottage – around five miles from Limerick city.
Ferguson appealed the severity of the sentence earlier this year and delivering judgement at the Court of Appeal on Monday, Mr Justice John Edwards said the court was not satisfied there was a rational basis for differentiating between the two accused.
He said a substantial air of grievance may be caused by the different sentences and that jurisdiction existed for the court to intervene in the interests of justice.
Mr Justice Edwards said the original sentencing judge had erred in differentiating between the two accused.
He said while the seven-year sentence (imposed on Ferguson) was appropriate, the difficulty was that the sentence imposed on Nevin was arguably lenient and possibly even unduly lenient.
Recognising the possibility that a sense of grievance may be harboured by Ferguson and in recognising the need to maintain public confidence in the administration of justice, the court “as a matter of discretion” said it was reducing Ferguson’s sentence from seven years to six.
Mr Justice Edwards, who sat with Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan and Mr Justice Alan Mahon, quashed the seven-year sentence imposed last year and imposed a new six-year sentence.
That sentence was back-dated to the date of the offence, which means, with remission, Ferguson is likely to be released before the end of the year.