Mother of three caught with €20,000 worth of cannabis

By Isabel Hayes

A mother of three, caught with €20,000 worth of cannabis under her stairs, told gardai she was under financial pressure ahead of her child’s Confirmation, a Dublin court has heard.

Sonia Collins (38) pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to one count of possessing cannabis for sale or supply at her home in Kilcronan Avenue, Clondalkin, on March 4, 2019.

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Dublin Circuit Criminal Court

She told gardaí she had run up a drug debt of €200 after buying some cocaine for social use and was then unable to repay it as her child’s Confirmation was coming up.

She told gardaí she felt “stupid” for agreeing to hold the drugs, claiming she did not know the value of the cannabis.

Garda Vincent Jaffray told the court that gardaí searched Collins’ home after receiving a tip-off that she was holding drugs. After opening the door to gardaí, Collins immediately showed them the drugs under the stairs.

A small child was present in the house at the time of the search, and gardaí chose not to immediately arrest Collins. She presented at Tallaght garda station a couple of days later and was charged then.

She declined to give gardaí the name of the person who had given her the drugs to hold, saying she was fearful for her safety. She said she had agreed to hold the drugs for “half an hour” but they were never collected.

Defence barrister, James Dwyer SC, said his client was a single mother of three children aged between five and 12. He said she struggled with heroin addiction up until she became pregnant with her first child.

The court heard Collins has been methadone-free for years but she “slipped” and bought cocaine for social use shortly before the offence. She has one minor conviction.

Mr Dwyer said there were a number of mitigating factors that would allow Judge Melanie Greally not to impose the mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years, including Collins’ guilty plea, and lack of criminal history.

Judge Greally suspended a prison sentence of two-and-a-half years on condition that she stay drug-free.

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