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Smuggler jailed for having drugs ‘just minding’ them, court told

Stephen Leonard

Stephen Leonard

October 31 2020 02:30 AM

An international drug trafficker who had nearly €3,800 worth of cocaine in his car claimed he was minding the drugs and someone was to come along and pick up the drugs from the unlocked car.

Stephen Leonard, who was jailed for two years in Perpignan in France four years ago and fined €96,000 after he was caught smuggling narcotics into that country, has been sentenced at Balbriggan District Court to nine months in prison after he admitted holding the cocaine.

The father-of-four claimed the car was to be left open for someone to “come along and pick up the drugs.”

He also claimed that as a drug user he was getting a discount for holding the drugs, Balbriggan District Court heard.

The defendant, of Danes Court in Lusk, Co Dublin pleaded guilty to being in unlawful possession of cocaine for sale or supply on December 16, 2019. He also pleaded guilty to possessing the drug on the same date.

He has five previous convictions – including four in France where he was jailed for smuggling narcotics in 2016.

Garda Simon Gerrard told the court a car being used by the defendant was searched and the drugs in small bags, worth €3,705, was found. After his house was searched, gardaí discovered a total of €3,460 in cash. The defendant made certain admissions, the court heard.

Gda Gerrard agreed with the defendant’s solicitor Laura Shannon that he told gardaí he was minding the drugs and as a drug user he was getting a discount for drugs.

“It is accepted he was storing the drugs and the car was left open for someone to come along and pick up the drugs from the car,” said Gda Gerrard.

His solicitor told the court the 36-year-old works every day as a recovery truck driver and lives with his girlfriend and father and young baby.

“It is accepted he was minding the drugs. He has since given up using drugs,” Ms Shannon said.

Explaining his convictions in France, Ms Shannon said the defendant drove a truck and “stupidly was not aware of the full contents”.

In sentencing the defendant to nine months in prison, Judge Dempsey said he has to take into account his previous convictions.

“He was in possession of drugs again, allegedly holding the drugs for someone else,” said Judge Dempsey.

The defendant immediately lodged an appeal of his conviction when the judge fixed recognisances of an independent surety of €1,000.

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