Charges over €50k ecstacy struck out in loophole aftermath

Charges against a man relating to possession of 5,000 ecstasy tablets were struck out yesterday, a move understood to be a result of a recent loophole which had temporarily decriminalised certain drugs.

Mark Burke, with an address at Berrings, North Kilmurry in Co Cork, had been arrested by gardaí not far from his home last December. He had been subsequently charged with possession of the drugs which had an estimated value of up to €50,000.

However, when the case came before Judge James McNulty yesterday at Macroom District Court, Insp Ger Lacey asked that the matter be struck out.

Insp Lacey said that the instruction came from the Director of Public Prosecutions.“That is my instruction from the director on this occasion,” he said.

The court then heard from Mr Burke’s solicitor, Daithí O’Donnabháin, about a related matter, specifically the continuing retention by gardaí in Cork of a Volvo car.

Mr O’Donnabháin said that the car did not belong to Mr Burke but to another person.

However, once Judge McNulty heard the matter was being dealt with in Cork District Court, the charges against Mr Burke were then struck out.

Mr Burke, who is in his 40s, was present in court for the brief hearing.

Insp Lacey did not outline the reasons why the DPP had given the direction but it is understood to be as a result of the recent ruling by the Court of Appeal on foot of a challenge by Lithuanian-born Stanislav Bederev against a High Court ruling.

The Court of Appeal ruled that section 2(2) of the 1977 Misuse of Drugs Act was unconstitutional as it purported to give the government law-making powers which are the exclusive authority of the Oireachtas.

It meant that as many as 100 substances were temporarily legal until the government closed off the loophole by passing emergency legislation last week, although Health Minister Leo Varadkar had warned that dozens of convictions were likely to be challenged as a result of the Court of Appeal rul- ing.

Already this week the state dropped a charge of possession of €2.5m worth of ecstasy against a man in light of last week’s Court of Appeal ruling.


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