A financial services worker who was caught holding cannabis with a street value of nearly €60,000 in her family home has been given a suspended sentence.
Rebecca Kavanagh, 30, told gardaí she was holding the drugs to pay off a drug debt, but after the debt was paid off, she continued to engage with the dealer in exchange for cannabis for her own personal use.
Kavanagh, of Woodlawn Park, Santry, Dublin, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to one count of possessing the drugs at her home address on April 14, 2021. She has no previous convictions.
Garda Aoife Mangan told Fiona Crawford BL, prosecuting, that gardaí raided the house on the date in question and found the drugs in sports bags and pillow cases. The drugs had a street value of €58,998. Kavanagh became tearful and admitted she was holding the drugs.
The court heard Kavanagh struggled with anxiety and depression since her teens. Her partner left her shortly after their baby was born, which exacerbated her mental health issues and she started using cannabis. She had previously worked in finance but gave up work for a few years.
Defence counsel told the court that since her arrest, Kavanagh has turned her life around. She is now drug-free, is attending counselling and has returned to work as a financial analyst.
The Probation Service assessed Kavanagh as being at low risk of re-offending and said she did not require any further intervention. Kavanagh is the sole carer to her child, who would be heartbroken if deprived of his mother, James Dwyer SC, defending, told the court.
A number of letters and testimonials from family, friends, neighbours and employers were handed into court outlining Kavanagh's kind nature and her work in the community. One elderly neighbour whom Kavanagh helped during the pandemic described her as having a “heart of gold”.
Sentencing Kavanagh on Monday, Judge Dara Hayes said drugs “bring violence and death to communities in this country” and Kavanagh chose to get involved in this.
He noted she continued holding the drugs after her debt had been paid off and, while not drug-dealing herself, had a “significant involvement” in the crime.
The judge said there was significant mitigation in the case, including Kavanagh's guilty plea, cooperation, low risk of reoffending and the fact the Probation Service does not need to see her again. He noted she had no history of criminal convictions and is in employment.
He accepted she is now drug-free and getting counselling for her mental health issues and that if she were imprisoned, it would have a disproportionate impact on her child.
“This is one of those rare cases where an immediate custodial sentence is not required,” the judge said. He handed down a three and a half year sentence and suspended it entirely.
Kavanagh was visibly emotional as the suspended sentence was handed down.