Mother and daughter jailed for cocaine possession

A mother and daughter from Surinam who were living "in dire poverty" in Holland have been jailed for four years at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court for possession of cocaine valued over €106,000.

A mother and daughter from Surinam who were living "in dire poverty" in Holland have been jailed for four years at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court for possession of cocaine valued over €106,000.

Marlene Smith (aged 46), who passed 107 pellets of cocaine valued €72,211 after an x-ray at Beaumont Hospital showed their presence in her stomach and intestines told gardaí she swallowed them on the promise of a ticket home to Surinam to search for her brother who had gone missing.

Mona Lisa Loe Afoe (aged 26), her eldest daughter, concealed 55 pellets of cocaine, valued €35,000, in various parts of her body because a €500 loan she got from a criminal to pay her rent and electricity bills was called-in early by him.

Smith, a mother of nine of Jongsh, Tooterdam 27 and Loe Afoe, a mother of two of Barrsweg 212, 3192Vt, Hoogulief, pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine for sale or supply at Dublin Airport on August 27, 2006.

Judge Katherine Delahunt said they were selected to act as couriers because they were vulnerable. She noted also that they were prosecuted under Section 15 rather than Section 15A of the Misuse of Drugs Act and that balancing everything in the case a four sentence for each was justified.

Sergeant Martin Halpin told prosecuting counsel, Mr Sean Guerin BL, that searches by Customs and Excise officers of the women when they arrived from Dussledorf Airport proved negative.

Both were then x-rayed in Beaumont Hospital and shown to have pellets of cocaine in their bodies. They said they were told they would be met on arrived in Dublin and there was a suggestion they might be travelling on to England. All their arrangements had been made for them by the criminals.

Sgt Halpin agreed with defence counsel, Ms Isobel Kennedy SC, that Loe Afoe had only swallowed 19 of the 55 pellets given to her to carry and concealed the balance in various parts of her body.

Ms Kennedy told Judge Delahunt that Loe Afoe was "in dire financial circumstances" in Holland where she lived for 13 years. Her children were now aged seven years and 20 months respectively and both their fathers had returned to Africa leaving her to rear them alone.

Counsel said Loe Afoe was suffering from the loss of her children but was using her time well in custody and motivating others in the Dóchas Centre at Mountjoy Prison. The governor had sent a plea on her behalf to the court which in itself was unusual.

Mr Hugh Hartnett SC, for Smith, said had nine children aged from six years to the mid-20s and had been living "in dire poverty" resulting in her succumbing "to this one terrible temptation".

Mr Hartnett said neither mother nor daughter had any previous convictions and hadn’t gained in any way from their crimes. "This is a case that can be dealt with leniently," he submitted.

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