'Drugs mule' sentenced to five years

A Surinam national who swallowed 110 "cocktail sausage"-size pellets filled with cocaine has been jailed for five years by Judge Michael White at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

A Surinam national who swallowed 110 "cocktail sausage"-size pellets filled with cocaine has been jailed for five years by Judge Michael White at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

Antonio Simon (aged 39) carried the cocaine valued just over €80,000 to Ireland for his Dutch girlfriend who had financially supported him for some time when he found it difficult to obtain work in Holland.

Detective Sergeant Martin Halpin told prosecuting counsel, Mr Cormac Quinn BL, that the woman was also arrested when she arrived in Ireland some days after Simon. She agreed she knew him but could not be charged due to lack of evidence of any offence.

Simon, with an address at Develstein 716B, Amsterdam, pleaded guilty to having 1146 grams of cocaine for sale or supply on December 15, 2005 at Dublin Airport.

Mr Conor Devalley SC, defending, said Simon was the father of children in Surinam and came to Holland some years ago to try to better his family’s circumstances.

He remitted money home when he could but found it difficult to maintain good employment and became associated with a woman in Amsterdam who also paid for trips home to Surinam for him to see his children. His wife left him due to his association with the Dutch woman.

Det Sgt Halpin said Simon had been profiled by Customs and Excise officers as a possible drugs mule and kept under supervision after he arrived on a flight from Amsterdam. He was stopped some hours later when boarding a bus for the city centre but searches of his person and baggage proved negative.

Gardaí were concerned for his safety when a urine sample proved positive for cocaine and a medical diagnoses of high blood pressure suggested he might have drugs concealed internally.

Simon at first declined to go to hospital or take medicine to help him pass the drug but later 110 pellets each about the size of a cocktail sausage and containing around 10.42 grams of cocaine were recovered.

Det Sgt Halpin said Simon told gardaí he carried the cocaine for his girlfriend because he wanted money to buy a new car. She had financially supported him previously and he was also to get €700 for expenses.

Det Sgt Halpin agreed with Mr Devalley that Simon "broke down and berated himself for his stupidity" in this venture. He was also concerned that he would be jailed far away from his children while they grew up.

Mr Devalley said Simon did not have much education and spoke Dutch as well as a native language but had very little English and would be "isolated linguistically" in prison far from all his friends and relatives.

He had been "sucked-in" to this operation by a cunning person because he was easily exploited. Counsel submitted that the court could use its discretion to impose less than the 10 years minimum sentence in view of all the circumstances of the case.

Judge White said it was a case which came within the ambit of the provisions allowing for a sentence less than the 10 years minimum to be imposed. He backdated the five-year term to run from December 15, 2005.

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