Sex worker advocate fights drugs conviction

An American woman who advocates for the rights of sex workers in Ireland appealed a conviction for cultivating cannabis at her flat in Cork three years ago.

Kate McGrew mounted a legal challenge against her conviction on the basis that the landlord’s discovery of the cannabis-growing tent was illegal and the Garda search warrant was defective.

Landlord Liam O’Driscoll said the smell from the flat was so strong he was afraid something had happened to Ms McGrew.

“She could have been lying on the ground dead. Anything could have happened to her. I was saying ‘God almighty I am damned if I do, damned if I don’t’,” he testified yesterday at Cork Circuit Appeals Court.

Ms McGrew was convicted at Cork District Court on the charge of cultivating the cannabis at apartment 4 on the second floor of 30 Patrick’s Hill, Cork, at the relevant time, on May 24, 2014, and she was ordered to do 200 hours of community service.

Judge James O’Donohoe found the facts of the case proven by the prosecution in yesterday’s appeal. He said the warrant used by gardaí was valid.

Alan O’Dwyer, defending, said the accused was working in Ireland, now living in Dublin, and working in an organisation campaigning for the rights of sex workers. She had no previous convictions and was anxious to avoid a conviction for cultivating cannabis against a background where a relative suffering from Parkinson’s was using the cannabis for pain relief.

Judge O’Donohoe said: “Given her good character and the fact that she has no previous convictions I am disposed towards dismissing the charge under the Probation of Offenders Act on her making a donation of €300 to the Peter McVerry Trust within nine months

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