Suspended sentence for mother who imported cannabis

A South African mother-of-four who claims her eldest child resulted from being raped when she was 16 has walked away from Dublin Circuit Criminal Court with a suspended sentence for importing cannabis.

Brenda Simon (aged 29) from Cape Town was given a five-year sentence by Judge Patrick McCartan who suspended it for five years and ordered her to leave Ireland immediately.

Simon who has been in custody since her arrest pleaded guilty to possession of €81,000 worth of the drug at Dublin Airport on July 7 last year.

Garda Breen Dunne told prosecuting counsel, Mr Garnet Orange BL, that customs officials stopped and questioned Simon when she arrived on a flight from Cape Town. Her answers aroused suspicion and a search of her luggage revealed several packages of cannabis wrapped in plastic.

She told gardaí she was due to meet a man in Liffey Valley who would take the drugs from her. She said she agreed to carry the drugs because she lived in poverty, supporting four children aged between two and 13.

Garda Dunne said Simon claimed her eldest child was the result of being raped at the age of 16.

Defence counsel, Ms Isobel Kennedy SC, said Simon was in "dire circumstances" and lived in a shack with her family. She said she was constantly fearful of social services taking her children.

Judge McCartan said the sentence must reflect the seriousness of the crime but noted her "sad situation". He said Simon "is atypical of the kind of person used as a mule" and added: "It is not likely she will be relied upon again by these people."

He also noted Simon had already served 15 months in custody while awaiting a court date.

Ms Kennedy said that as soon as she was released, Simon would be automatically rearrested by the Garda Immigration Bureau and put on a plane back to South Africa.


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