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Thursday 21 June 2018

Cocaine-in-wallet solicitor let off with donation to charity

Aonghus McCarthy claimed drugs in his wallet were not his. Photo: Courtpix
Aonghus McCarthy claimed drugs in his wallet were not his. Photo: Courtpix

A solicitor caught with cocaine in his wallet during a professional visit to Mountjoy Prison has been granted a strike out after he donated €1,250 to the Merchant Quay drug addiction treatment centre.

Aonghus McCarthy (32), who insisted someone else put the drugs in his wallet at a party, had been told last month he would be spared a criminal conviction if he made the donation.

Judge Gerry Jones had said at Dublin District Court that McCarthy was in a "noble profession" but was being treated the same as any other defendant, adding: "He will get one chance and one chance only."

Cocaine worth €26 and weighing 0.33g was found when his wallet was searched.

The case resumed yesterday when Judge Grainne O'Neill, now presiding, noted from defence solicitor Miska Hanahoe that there was a receipt to confirm he had made the donation.

Charge

The solicitor had originally been charged in November under Section 15c of the Misuse of Drugs Act for conveying a controlled drug into Mountjoy Prison or to a person in the prison on February 8, 2017, a charge he denied.

But in January, an additional but less serious charge for unlawful possession of the drug was brought in the case.

On February 5, when the case resumed, Judge Jones noted the State was not proceeding with the more serious allegation for conveying the drug into the prison, which can carry a possible 12-month jail sentence.

A guilty plea was then entered to the less serious charge of possession.

The court earlier heard that when the solicitor, of Wellington House, Clancy Quay, Dublin, was interviewed by Garda Finbarr Brennan over the find, he said: "I absolutely 100pc did not put it in my wallet. Someone else must have put it in there."

He added: "I do not do drugs and I would not risk the entirety of my career."

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