Central Criminal Court
An Irish man who travelled home from Brazil after concealing 49 pellets of cocaine valued at over €40,000 internally has been jailed for three years and three months.
Steven Smith (44), formerly of Ashbrook, Dundalk, Co. Louth, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possession and unlawful importation of cocaine at Dublin Airport on November 21, 2013.
Smith left Ireland in 2014 after being released on High Court bail. He was brought back to Ireland from the United Kingdom in June following an appeal on Crime Watch.
Judge Martin Nolan noted Smith was a drug user at the time and was carrying out the offence for reward, either the alleviation of a debt or a cash payment.
He noted Smith had his problems but did make admissions and co-operate with the investigation.
He said Smith was probably at the lowest end of the drugs transportation operation and was taking a considerable risk to himself in transporting them.
Judge Nolan imposed a three year and three month sentence, backdated to June to reflect time spent in custody.
Garda Kevin Nolan told Garrett McCormack BL, prosecuting, that Smith was stopped by customs officers at the airport in November 2013 after arriving home from Brazil, via Amsterdam.
An x-ray was inconclusive but a swab found traces of cocaine and during conversation with airport police Smith later revealed he had 49 pellets of cocaine concealed internally. He said he had been put under pressure to swallow them and bring them back. The drugs had a value of €42,920.
He said he was to receive money and had done another drug run previously. Smith was brought to Beaumont Hospital to have the pellets removed.
Smith has previous convictions in Canada, the UK and Ireland for offences including assault, theft, possession of drugs and public order offences.
Dominick McGinn SC, defending, said Smith had been born in Ireland but moved to Canada with his family as a ten year old, staying there until he was a young adult. He said Smith had a child when he was 25 years old but went on a downward spiral when his relationship broke down.
Gda Nolan agreed Smith told gardai he moved to Ireland in 2006 but fell into drug use and came into contact with the people who asked him to go to Brazil after he ran up a debt.
Gda Nolan agreed that this method of drug importation was a sign of desperation or poverty and was not used by people “higher up the ladder.”
Mr McGinn submitted that while it was not to his credit that Smith had gone to the UK he had brought about a “sea change” in his life during those years by gaining employment and ending his drug use.
He asked the court to take into account Smith's guilty plea, his admissions and submitted he was at the lowest end of the ladder.
Mr McGinn handed in a letter from Smith which he said outlined his firm resolve not to go back to his old life and to build a bright, more positive future. He said Smith had suffered mental health issues prior to the offence and more recently following a head injury.
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