Wednesday, March 01, 2023

A MAN who was transporting drugs for a criminal gang was imprisoned at Carlow Circuit Court last week. Samuel Obadia (52) of Tommy Murphy Park, Graiguecullen was given a three-and-a-half-year sentence, with the last 12 months suspended, after he pleaded guilty to having drugs worth €56,000 for sale or supply.

Evidence had previously been heard in the case from prosecuting garda Detective Tommy Cleere, and the matter had been adjourned until last week for sentencing. During sentencing, Judge Eugene O’Kelly outlined the facts of the case that a search of the defendant’s vehicle at MacGamhna Road, Carlow on 28 June 2021 revealed 3kg of cannabis worth €56,000. The defendant was arrested and made full admissions. Judge O’Kelly said the defendant was “making runs for a criminal gang, either money or drugs”.

The judge believed the defendant may have been targeted to do this as he had previously not come to the attention of gardaí. Mr Obadia had admitted to gardaí that he had done a total of six runs. He had never been threatened to do the act, nor was there any drug use involved, noted the judge.

“He got involved for payment,” said Judge O’Kelly.

Mr Obadia had two previous convictions for road traffic matters.

In mitigation, defending barrister Kathleen Leader SC told the court that Mr Obadia had been living in Ireland for 20 years and was currently living in Tullow. A native of Portugal, the court was told that he had served in the army for five years after being educated to secondary school level. The court was also told that as a result of his service, he had suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. He had drunk heavily over the years and had suffered mental health difficulties along with arthritis and blood pressure.

Ms Leader said that at the time of the offence his client had been under financial pressure. He had split with his partner, who had “stolen all of his money”.

“His partner had left him, taken his savings and had run up a debt on the credit card,” she said. “At the same time, his mother was sick in Portugal … he was not able to fund the care of his mother.”

Ms Leader said her client was vulnerable at the time due to his mental health issues and financial situation.

“He did something he regrets … out of character for him. He does not have any previous convictions for anything similar. Other previous convictions relate to the district court and road traffic issues,” she said. “He has spent a significant part of his life not coming to garda attention.”

Ms Leader highlighted her client’s co-operation and his early plea. When he was charged, Mr Obadia had replied after caution: “I am guilty of the offence.”

A probation report had been prepared in the case, which described Mr Obadia as being at low risk of reoffending.

Ms Leader said her client was “generally pro-social”, who worked in Aldi as a shop assistant. Ms Leader asked the judge not to impose a sentence but to consider a community service order that would “mark the seriousness of the offence”.

Letters relating to the defendant’s medical issues were submitted to court.

Judge O’Kelly placed the offence at the beginning of the mid-range of the sentencing scale, which carried a custodial sentence ranging from five to ten years. Judge O’Kelly said he did this in light of the value of the drugs and the fact that the defendant had transported the drugs for financial gain. Judge O’Kelly noted the defendant’s co-operation with gardaí and the financial pressures and imposed a headline sentence of five years.

He reduced this to three-and-a-half years, taking into consideration the positive probation report. The final 12 months of the sentence were suspended in view of the defendant’s rehabilitation, with Mr Obadia to be of good behaviour.

The defendant was subsequently taken into custody. The state entered a nolle prosequi on a drug possession charge and sale/supply charge arising from the same incident. A destruction order was imposed on the drugs.

The case was prosecuted by barrister Niall Storan BL instructed by state solicitor Sandra Mahon. Ms Leader was instructed by Farrell McElwee Solicitors.

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