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Wednesday 20 November 2019

'Vulnerable' mum sobs after judge jails her for storing €590k of drugs

Sarah Clarke was trying to pay off a historic drug debt
Sarah Clarke was trying to pay off a historic drug debt

A "vulnerable" young mo- ther whose apartment was used to store nearly €590,000 worth of heroin and cocaine has been jailed for three years.

Sarah Clarke (25) "visibly recoiled" when she was shown the nearly four kilos of heroin that was being held in her flat, Gda Daniel McFeely told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

The mother-of-one knew drugs were being held there to pay off a drug debt, the court heard.

Clarke, of New Bancroft Place, Tallaght, pleaded guilty to possessing heroin and cocaine for sale or supply on October 17 last year.

Sentencing her yesterday, Judge Martin Nolan accepted Clarke was unaware of exactly what kind and quantity of drugs were in her apartment, but she was aware that drugs were being stored.

Judge Nolan said the mitigating factors were her early guilty plea, her co-operation with gardai, her personal circumstances and the fact she had no previous convictions.

He said that, while it was undoubted that Clarke was pressured to hold the drugs and the court was very sympathetic to her, it could not impose a non-custodial sentence.

Judge Nolan sentenced Clarke to six years' imprisonment, but suspended the final three years on condition that she keep the peace and be of good behaviour behind bars and for three years after release.

Clarke burst into tears after the judge passed the sentence, as did several women in the body of the court.

The court heard Clarke's apartment, where she lived with her child, was searched by gardai after they received a tip-off.

A package containing €553,000 worth of heroin and €34,600 of cocaine was found in the home, which was empty.

Clarke was later arrested in a family member's house. She told gardai she had a historic drug debt amounting to €5,000 and, on moving into the apartment, was contacted by the individuals she owed money to.

She provided a spare key and the package was placed in the apartment when she was not present, Gda McFeely said.

AFRAID

Sean Gillane, defending, said his client was so afraid of what might be in the package that she stayed away from her home. He said she asked the individuals to remove it, but was fobbed off.

Mr Gillane said Clarke had a history of cocaine abuse arising from a difficult family background but had since rehabilitated herself for the sake of her daughter.

She had worked as a special needs assistant and had been training to care for the elderly, the court heard.

Moving into her own home was the start of a new life, Mr Gillane submitted.

"But as soon as she gets these premises, starts a new life, these others drag her back," he told the court.

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