A drug dealer and addict caught with heroin and cocaine valued at €55,000 nine years ago has been spared jail because he is dying.
Harry Melia (60), of Park Place, Chapelizod Road, Kilmainham, Dublin, was found guilty of possessing the drugs for sale or supply in his flat on August 28, 2004.
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that Melia has spent half his life in prison and is currently in palliative care for end-stage chronic pulmonary disease.
Melia was jailed for 15 years for these offences in February 2006, however he successfully appealed his sentence and was released on bail in October of that year after serving less than nine months in prison.
A re-trial was ordered but was adjourned numerous times due to Melia's medical conditions including emphysema, for which he now requires constant oxygen.
A bench warrant was issued for his arrest in 2009, followed by a European Arrest Warrant in October 2010 when he failed to show up for trial.
In May 2012, Melia was electronically tagged and put under house arrest in London, where he was living with his long-term partner.
He was extradited to Ireland from the UK in April of this year and has been in custody since.
Garda Maura McGarry told Melanie Grealy BL, prosecuting, that gardaí raided Melia's flat in Kilmainham after a tip-off and that the accused answered the door.
She said they found 190 grammes of heroin in plastic tubs, with a street value of €54,000.
Gardaí also discovered 12 grammes of cocaine valued at €1,030 along with €18,000 in cash.
They also found a weighing scales and a pink address book in an airing cupboard, with lists of names and amounts written beside each one.
Gda McGarry said Melia has 32 previous convictions from 1967 to 1991 and has been a drug addict for most of his life.
Judge Mary Ellen Ring congratulated the gardaí on their work and commented that they must be happy to see the back of the case.
John Peart SC, defending, said Melia has end-stage lung disease, hepatitis C and frozen shoulder. He needs constant oxygen and is now in palliative care. He said his client was on 20ml of methadone a day.
Mr Peart said it would be “merciful” of the State to hand down a suspended sentence, adding that “society wouldn't be any the worse for it.”
He said Melia wants to stay with his long-term partner and her daughter, who is expecting a baby imminently, for the rest of his life “which possibly isn't too long”.
Judge Ring imposed a ten-year sentence but suspended it in full, on condition that Melia is of good behaviour and keeps the peace for ten years.