Drugs 'mule' thought she was aiding Longford Gardaí

Woman convinced covert camera had been placed inside TV set

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Judge Seamus Hughes

Judge Seamus Hughes.

A judge is to run the rule over a probation report concerning a Drumlish woman who acted as a “drugs mule” by inadvertently placing a glass jar full of cannabis herb under a parked car in a local housing estate.

Regina Bennett, of 4 Cairn Hill View, Drumlish pleaded guilty to the possession of drugs for the purposes of sale and supply at Mill Race Park, Mill Road, Drumlish on August 9 2017.

The court was told by Sgt Paddy McGirl that the accused had been identified by CCTV footage taken from the scene which showed Ms Bennett depositing the drugs under a vehicle before leaving the scene.

He said when officers subsequently arrested her, certain “admissions” were made.

Sgt McGirl said Ms Bennett had intended to deliver the drugs to another house close by but when she received no answer at the door, decided to place the package under a vehicle that was parked near the scene.

The court was also told how Ms Bennett had also been charged with the unlawful possession of drugs following a search carried out by gardaí at her home a little over three months later.

On that occasion, gardaí retrieved cannabis with an estimated street value of €120.

Sgt McGirl said upon questioning Ms Bennett insisted the cannabis herb had been for her own personal use.

Presiding Judge Seamus Hughes was also informed the 42-year-old had three previous convictions to her name.

In defence, solicitor Frank Gearty said his client, while a self confessed frequenter of cannabis, was someone who dabbled in its use for pain relief purposes due to a “severe” condition of rheumatoid arthritis.

He continued his mitigation by underlining Ms Bennett’s previous good character and described how she had heretofore held down a much sought after job in the local healthcare industry, a position she had held for 15 years.

Sporting a blue top and black trousers, Ms Bennett was asked by Judge Hughes why she had not resorted to taking prescribed medicine instead.

Ms Bennett replied, saying the reason she stopped was “because of all the effects” it was having on her.

She said she had visited a rheumatoid specialist in Tullamore in recent days who advised her to go back on a prescribed course of industry approved medicine.

“It appears she was in the course of using cannabis for her own use and was singled out as a person of use,” interjected Mr Gearty.

Appearing intrigued by those version of events, Judge Hughes said he wanted to know how and why Ms Bennett had turned from a cannabis user to someone who participated in the distribution of controlled drugs.

“How did they persuade you to become a courier?” he asked.

“The answer probably won’t convince me, but I want to hear her speak.”

With no explanation seemingly forthcoming, Mr Gearty said there was another “very complex” reason behind Ms Bennett’s actions on the day.

“She thought she was helping the Gardaí in this and she misunderstood her role,” he said, adding Ms Bennett was fully convinced that a covert camera had been placed inside a TV set which gardaí would then use as part of their investigations.

“She was a mule and left the drugs parked under the car of an entirely innocent person.”

It was also revealed the said item had been found strewn across the ground after the glass jar in which the drugs were contained, smashed.

“The pigeons of Longford had a good feed of white powder that morning,” quipped Judge Hughes in response.

Mr Gearty contended his client was not in financial arrears to any drugs gang either after settling her debt with those who had provided her with the drugs.

Judge Hughes was told Ms Bennett had stopped short of revealing the identity of her dealers “out of fear of retribution”.

Mr Gearty said Ms Bennett had since distanced herself from such activity, adding: “She is no longer this business”.

He also informed the court of how Ms Bennett was endeavouring to get her life back on track after spending a week as an in patient in St Loman’s Hospital in Mullingar.

As such, he asked Judge Hughes to consider monitoring Ms Bennett progress under the auspices of a probation report in order to prove she was “moving on with her life”.

Judge Hughes agreed to that request and adjourned the case until a sitting of Longford District Court on December 18.

In doing so, he nonetheless warned Ms Bennett that she was a considerable distance from being exonerated for her actions.

“This won’t be resolved very fast, I can assure you,” he added.