An appeal brought by two men who claimed they were “stitched up” by gardaí for the possession of heroin worth €43,000 in a wooded area in Co Cork more than two years ago has been dismissed this morning by the Court of Criminal Appeal (CCA).
Aidan Finnegan (aged 30), with an address at Farranferris, Farranree, Co Cork, and Alan Morrison (aged 31), of Coultry Road, Ballymun, Dublin, had pleaded not guilty to the possession of 215 grams of heroin at Brooklodge Grove, Glanmire on September 5, 2008.
They were each sentenced to 12 years imprisonment by Judge Patrick Moran in July 2009, having been unanimously found guilty of the unlawful possession of drugs by a Cork Circuit Criminal Court jury a month previously.
The pair claimed that they had only gone into the wooded area to urinate, that they had not ventured sufficiently far up the woodland path to encounter the spot where the heroin was stashed and that gardaí had stitched them up. Both appealed their convictions and their sentences.
This morning, the CCA of Mrs Justice Fidelma Macken presiding, sitting with Mr Justice Daniel Herbert and Mr Justice Daniel O’Keeffe, dismissed the men's appeal against their convictions, and held that their convictions were safe.
Their appeal against their sentences will be heard at a later date.
In their appeal against conviction, lawyers for the men claimed the trial judge had erred in failing to properly direct the jury on the definition of possession.
They also claimed the trial judge had also failed to convey to the jury the State’s requirement to prove that the accused men knew and intended to have controlled drugs in their possession.
It was also argued that the trial judge’s charge to the jury had also “lacked balance” and had failed to put his client’s case to the jury in a fair and even-handed fashion.
The DPP opposed the appeal and argued the convictions should stand.