A couple who claimed they had around €28,000 worth of cannabis to manufacture their own cannabis oil to assist the man’s dying mother have received suspended sentences.
Jemma Dinnigan (35) of Skelligs Court, Waterville, Blanchardstown, Dublin 15 and Kevin Lappin (37) of Corduff Crescent, Blanchardstown, Dublin 15, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possession of the drugs for sale or supply on January 9, 2019.
Lappin had a previous conviction for possession of drugs, while Dinnigan had convictions for assault causing harm and theft. Lappin’s mother had been diagnosed with cancer in 2018. She has since passed away.
Garda Paul Nolan told Caroline Cummings BL, prosecuting, that he was conducting a garda checkpoint that afternoon when he beckoned the driver of a Seat Ibiza to pull over. The driver, Dinnigan, stopped 20 yards in front of him and he spoke to her through a window after she was unable to roll down the driver’s window.
Gda Nolan said he got a strong smell of cannabis from the car. Dinnigan claimed she had just “smoked a joint” and she was driving to work. She was arrested after the garda determined that “she had consumed an intoxicant to such an extent that she was not capable of being in proper control of the vehicle”.
Dinnigan later provided a blood sample and was found to be over the limit for driving.
Gda Nolan said that Dinnigan’s home was later searched and two quantities of cannabis were found in two separate amounts in the bedroom. Her car was also searched and four separate containers were discovered underneath a seat.
The garda confirmed that the total amount of cannabis found in the house was €28,360 and €224 worth of cannabis was found in the car.
During garda interview Dinnigan said her boyfriend’s mother was ill with cancer and she was intending to make cannabis oil with the drugs to help the woman with pain.
Lappin was arrested the following month and during a garda interview he took full ownership for the cannabis. He said the reason he had the cannabis was to get cannabis oil for his mother who had been unwell since August 2018.
Judge Pauline Codd said there was an “unusual aspect” to the case in relation to the making of cannabis oil and the “unlawful” personal use of the cannabis by Lappin and his mother.
“People can't take it upon themselves to set up their own factories for making cannabis oil and for treatment,” the judge said.
She noted the pair had accepted responsibility for their wrongdoing and had pleaded guilty at an early opportunity. A Probation Services report found they are at a low risk of reoffending.
Judge Codd said it would be unjust to impose the presumptive mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in this case. She handed down a three-year sentence to both Dinnigan and Lappin, which she suspended in full on a number of conditions.
Gda Nolan agreed with Giollíosa Ó Lideadha SC, defending Lappin, that gardaí accept he bought the cannabis for making cannabis oil but added that it is also believed that he was selling some of the drugs to compensate for the initial purchase of it.
He agreed with Vincent Heneghan SC, defending Dinnigan, that she believed that cannabis oil could be used as a form of medication if other medications are not working and outlined the system she used to make the oil during garda interview.
It was accepted that both have not come to garda attention since their arrest. Mr Ó Lideadha said his client is now attending a herbal medicine online course in an attempt to find an alternative to cannabis.
Mr Heneghan said his client has a 19-year-old daughter. He added that she accepts she was wrong and that what she did was illegal.
“It was not there for her own profit,” Mr Heneghan submitted before he added that is client is “willing to put her troubles behind her and pick herself up by the boot straps”.
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