Laura Clarke, aged 23, of Belcamp Avenue, Coolock, Dublin, said she was addicted to cocaine and that drug dealers exploded a pipe bomb outside her house two years ago to intimidate her.
Clarke pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possession of 372g of cocaine for sale or supply on October 7, 2014, at her home where he lived with her mother and her four-year-old son. She has no previous convictions.
Judge Patrick McCartan said the punishment for drug dealing was “draconian” because society viewed it as a very serious offence. The offence carries up to life in prison and a mandatory minimum term of 10 years except in exceptional circumstances.
The judge said the higher courts had ruled that the offence must lead to an immediate prison term and that Clarke “richly” deserved a custodial sentence.
However, he said he was going to take a chance on her because of her son and her voluntary community work and imposed a five-year suspended sentence.
iona Murphy, prosecuting, told the court that gardaí raided Clarke’s family home after a confidential tip-off. Clarke was at work at Malahide Tennis Club but her mother directed gardaí towards her bedroom where they found the cocaine and a weighing scales.
Her mother picked her up at work and brought her back home, where she was arrested. Clarke said in an interview that she had a €3,000 drug debt and that her dealers told her she had to repay it by holding onto the cocaine or she would not see her son again.
She told gardaí these same dealers exploded a pipe bomb outside her home in 2013. Damien Colgan, defending, said Clarke was now clean of drugs and volunteered with a community training scheme. He submitted she only agreed to hold the drugs because she was in fear for her safety and the safety of her child.