A Trinidadian woman caught smuggling cocaine into Dublin to raise money to treat her seriously ill son has been sentenced to six years in prison with five suspended.
Margaret Alexander (aged 50) was arrested at Dublin Airport on February 27, 2013 after customs officers found cocaine worth €192,605 hidden in the lining of two suitcases.
She pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possessing the drugs for sale or supply and has been in custody at the Dóchas Centre since her arrest.
Detective Garda Dominic McGrath said Alexander had been trying to raise money to treat her 25-year-old son, who has cerebral palsy and has been wheelchair-bound since birth.
Defence counsel Luigi Rea BL said Alexander needed US $13,000 to pay for her son's operation.
He said she had placed an advertisement in the paper in Trinidad and had been approached by a number of Nigerian men who asked her to transport drugs.
She said she believed the drug she was carrying was marijuana.
Mr Rea said that since her imprisonment, Alexander has completed courses in tapestry and personal development and is attending a number of other courses which she hopes will help her find employment on her return to Trinidad.
He said the single mother-of-three has no previous convictions and suffers from diabetes and arthritis.
Judge Desmond Hogan said it was a “harrowing” case, and that although the woman had committed a very serious offence, she had done it for altruistic reasons.
He said he had no doubt that the woman became involved in the crime in order to be able to afford medical attention for her son.
The judge noted that since her incarceration in Ireland, her three children had been evicted from their home.
The court was given letters written by Alexander's children, a friend and her doctor who confirmed that her son has cerebral palsy.
Judge Hogan imposed a six year sentence but suspended the final five years and backdated it to when she was arrested.
He said he had no objection to the woman being deported back to Trinidad once her sentence is served.