A 26-year-old asylum seeker was sentenced to nine months in jail for drug dealing after gardai raided his room seizing nearly €1,700 of cannabis herb, much of which was ‘bagged up’ for distribution.
Farrad Atta Mohammad with an address at Great Western House, Frenchville Lane, Eyre Square, appeared at Galway District Court on Monday where he pleaded guilty to possession of cannabis herb with intent to sell or supply on April 30, 2012. He was also charged with possession of the drug.
Garda Patrick Fahy gave evidence that at 2pm gardai attended the defendant’s place of residence and searched his room where they found two separate quantities of cannabis herb - 131 grams in one bag and 11 smaller bags with two grams of the drug in each one. Garda Fahy further explained that there had been 40 to 50 other empty bags in the room and that the total value of the drugs found was estimated at €1,750. Mohammad was arrested and detained under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act and when interviewed by gardai he admitted that he owned the drugs but did not admit to selling or supplying them to others. He later explained that the defendant admitted buying the drugs in Limerick for €200 and that it had been for his own use.
Defence solicitor Adrian MacLynn said that his client, who is from Afganistan, has been in the country for four years during which time he spent two years in Dublin before being transferred to Galway. Mr MacLynn explained that his client is a user of cannabis and is currently awaiting the outcome of his asylum application. He then put it to Garda Fahy that although his client did distribute the drug to friends he is not a “big time” player in the drugs scene.
“The amount speaks for itself,” replied Garda Fahy before Judge Mary Fahy told the court that “every player has a role”.
Mr MacLynn then explained that Mohammad, who has no previous convictions, would use cannabis to relieve the pain caused by an injury to his back. He then put it to Garda Fahy that Mohammad’s lifestyle is quite normal.
Garda Fahy replied that although the defendant is paid €19 per week by the State as part of his asylum status cash valued at €215 was found in his room and seized.
After hearing the evidence Judge Fahy noted that it was very cynical of the defendant to be involved in his activity in a country where he is seeking asylum, a process which has the basic requirement that the applicant be of good behaviour.
“The bags are part of the paraphenalia of selling drugs. If I imposed a suspended sentence I would be giving carte blanche to people to carry on like this,” said Judge Fahy who took the defendant’s guilty plea into account and imposed a nine month jail sentence. She then noted the possession charge proven and taken into account. Leave to appeal was granted and an order for the destruction of the cannabis herb and forfeiture of the €215 cash was also made.