Saturday 18 November 2017

Drugs ruling challenge by three inmates

Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns
Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns

The High Court has heard that three men jailed after admitting possessing certain drugs should be released immediately from prison because the substances were not illegal at the times of their arrest or sentence.

In unrelated incidents, Keith Willis (25), of Rossmore Avenue, Ballyfermot, who admitted having more than 5,000 ecstasy tablets; Anthony Murphy (43), of Galtymore Road, Drimnagh, who admitted having €560,000 worth of synthetic cannabis; and Joseph Carberry (54), of Lonsdale Terrace, Ballymun, who admitted having pentedrone, pleaded guilty to being in possession of various drugs.

All three have challenged the validity of their detention arising from a recent Court of Appeal decision to strike down as unconstitutional a provision of the Misuse of Drugs Act declaring possession of some 100 types of drugs to be an offence.

The men's lawyers sought, and were granted, inquiries under Article 40 of the Constitution into their continued detention.

They claim they should be released given the findings of the Court of Appeal. The State says all three are validly detained and should not be released.


Yesterday, following the conclusion of submissions, President of the High Court Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns said he hoped to deliver his judgment by the end of the month.

The Court of Appeal last month found Section 2(2) of the 1977 Misuse of Drugs Act, on foot of which a regulation making it an offence to possess certain substances was introduced, was unconstitutional as it purported to vest law-making powers in the Government when these were the exclusive authority of the Oireachtas.

The ruling, made in an action brought by Stanuslav Bedereve, temporarily made psychoactive drugs legal and led to the enactment of emergency legislation banning possession of a range of drugs, including ecstasy and magic mushrooms.

Following the Bedereve ruling, the three men argue that their continued detention is unlawful, they claim.

Willis was sentenced to five years in prison with the last two suspended; Murphy received an eight-year sentence with the final three suspended; and Carberry received an 11-year sentence with the final 12 months suspended.


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