A 45-year-old mother of two, who has been using cannabis for more than 30 years and was described by Judge Mary Devins as being a “mature Vicky Pollard”, was sentenced to jail for the unlawful possession of €1,699 worth of cannabis for the purpose of selling or supplying the drug to others.
Detective Garda Sinead Caheny told Ballina District Court that on May 23 2008 she received confidential information that Valerie Gorman, 19 Fenian Row, Ballina, had cannabis in her possession. A search warrant was obtained by Garda Caheny the same day, with the warrant being executed on May 24 at 3pm on the defendant’s premises.
The garda said that Gorman took a nine ounce bar of cannabis out of the kitchen press and gave it to gardaí. A subsequent analysis showed that it was 242.8 grammes weight. A knife was also found in a kitchen drawer which had brown marks on it, which was used for cutting the cannabis.
Garda Caheny read out a written memo of interview with the defendant in court. This interview was also recorded on tape at Ballina Garda Station. In the interview, Gorman said she would rather not say from whom she bought the cannabis, but that she got it on tick for €800 the night before she was detected. She said in her interview that she rang for the cannabis at 8pm and it was delivered to her house at 9.30pm/10pm. Gorman admitted that she was going to cut the cannabis in the house and sell it in ounces for €100 each. The defendant also said that she had a half bar which she paid €400 for the week before and sold five ounces of it for €100 each and kept an ounce for herself. Gorman continued by saying that she had been stuck for money in the previous two to three weeks and knew what she was doing was wrong.
The defendant who took the stand said: “I never once said that I was a dealer,” and claimed that she said that she was stuck for money and so bought the cannabis in bulk for her own use as this would be cheaper. Gorman also said that she explained to gardaí how she would cut it for her own use, and did not tell gardaí what she would sell it for but what “I would pay for it myself”. The defendant told the court that she was in shock when she was interviewed and “didn’t understand half of it” or “what their [the gardaí] game was”. Judge Devins pointed out that all of it was on tape.
Michael Bohan, who defended Gorman, said that the nervous woman, who suffers from depression and is the mother of a 22-year-old and 10-year-old, has been off cannabis for eight weeks and will never use the drug again. Mr Bohan asked Judge Devins that no custodial sentence be imposed on the defendant, who has one conviction, as Gorman has already been shunned by the small community, is called names in the street, with the publication of the case being enough embarrassment.
Judge Devins said that Gorman is a “professional victim” and is self absorbed “forgetting that she is a mother of two”. The judge said that most mothers would have Coco Pops in the kitchen yet she Gorman had a bar of cannabis, and added that Gorman “was slippery beyond description” — an expert of dodging, as she has “ducked and dived a lot of her adult life”.
Judge Devins said that she was satisfied that Gorman was going to sell the cannabis and said that the public deserve that a woman who committed a crime like this be punished. For the intent to supply the drug Gorman was convicted and fined €500 and sentenced to three months in prison. For possession of the drug the defendant was convicted and fined €300 and the judge ordered the destruction of the cannabis. Recognisances were fixed.