Mom Jailed for Drugs
A MOTHER who was caught transporting almost a kilogram of cannabis in order to pay a drug debt owed by her son will begin a two year prison sentence this week.

Margaret Purcell, aged 47, of Ballynanty, pleaded guilty to possession of the drugs worth €11,930.40 for the purpose of sale or supply on November 10, 2011.

During a sentencing hearing, Garda (police officer) Peter Colleran said he was on routine patrol at Lee Estate shortly before 7 p.m. when he observed the defendant leaving a house carrying a plastic shopping bag and a paper bag.

He became suspicious as she got into a taxi.  He told the court she was “visibly nervous and extremely shaky” when he approached the vehicle.

When asked what was in the bags, Purcell replied it was “just dirty washing.”

Colleran said one of the bags appeared to contain clothes, but he subsequently found a vacuum packed-bag containing the drugs hidden inside a cushion.Following her arrest, Purcell told Gardai she had been given the drugs outside a Limerick hotel earlier that day and that she had been told to drop the package off at the green area near Ballynanty Community Center after dark.

Colleran accepted that Purcell has been put under “ferocious pressure” by other individuals to transport the drugs in order to repay a drug debt owed by her son who was in prison at the time.
Brendan Nix said his client, who has no previous convictions, was not being paid to transport the drugs. He said she believed her life and that of her son were in danger.

“She was a sprat being cobbled up by these rats,” Nix said, adding that his client, a local authority tenant, would lose her home if sent to prison.
Imposing the two year sentence, Judge Carroll Moran said such cases are “really dreadful, adding,

“Drugs are a much maligned influence on society in Ireland and they are everywhere.”

Limerick Leader

Couples Counseling
THE number of hours of marriage counseling sought by couples in the midwest has been steadily increasing in the past three years, according to a report from ACCORD.

The figures indicate an increase in demand for the Catholic organization’s two key services, marriage preparation and marriage counseling.

Figures show that in 2012, 14,232 people nationwide attended ACCORD’s marriage preparation courses. The group delivered more than 50,000 marriage counseling hours.

Ennis, the association’s Clare centre, saw 1,164 couples attended marriage preparation courses last year, down on 2011 when 2,379 individuals undertook the course. It is up on the 2010 figure however, when 1,123 couples did the pre-marriage course here.

The voluntary Catholic organization reports a marginal decrease in levels of anxiety and stress reported by clients despite the figures remaining high at 87 percent in 2010, to 83 percent in 2011 and to 82 percent in 2012.

Reports of communication difficulties have risen since 2010, when 74 percent of individuals reported criticism and insults and 79 percent reported not listening/ignoring as a problem in their relationship. In 2011 and in 2012 the figures rose to 78 percent and 82 percent respectively.

More than half of individuals, 58 percent, presenting to ACCORD in 2012, rated financial difficulties as a problem.

Levels of emotional abuse reported by clients have risen in the three-year period from 54 percent in 2010 to 59 percent in both 2011 and 2012. 

Concerns about separation have risen over the past three years, from 52 percent in 2010 to 57 percent in 2011 and 58 percent in 2012. The number of clients reporting infidelity as a problem has risen slightly over the three-year period, from 24 percent in 2010, to 25 percent in 2011 and to 26 percent in 2012.

Reports of physical violence in relationships have shown a decrease over the three-year period, ranging from 19 percent in 2010 to 14 percent in 2011 and to 13 percent in 2012.

Clare Champion

Calves for Prison
BOTHAR, the Irish international development agency, is calling on Tipperary farmers to send a calf to prison -- literally -- this spring in a project that will turn lives around in some of the poorest regions of the world.

The chief executive of the development agency, which was co-founded by the late farm leader and Tipperary native TJ Maher and uses livestock to lift over 6,000 families out of destitution each year across the globe, has asked farmers to consider donating a dairy calf over the coming weeks to Shelton Abbey open prison where inmates will rear it before it is sent as an in-calf heifer abroad.

Launching its Call for Calves appeal, Bothár CEO Dave Moloney said that the Shelton Abbey experience over the past four years has been a “win-win” for all concerned.

“The Shelton Abbey project is one of the best we have been engaged in over our 21 years in operation. The dairy calves donated by farmers are superbly cared for by inmates under supervision by the farm managers at Shelton, whose support has been amazing,” Moloney said.

“The inmates themselves get a lot from the project as they get to give something back to society, which is an important part of their rehabilitation. Then there are the most important beneficiaries -- the families living in the most abject poverty who are gifted the in-calf heifers. This simply changes their world.”

Tipperary Star

Conviction Number 216
A 25-YEAR-old Newbridge woman with 215 previous convictions has been given a suspended sentence for a handbag robbery.

Martina O’Connor pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to robbery at Johnson Court, Dublin 2 on March 6, 2010.

Garda Paul Gray told the prosecutor that a young woman was on her way home after a night socializing and was walking through the Johnson Court area when O’Connor came up behind her and twisted her hair.

O’Connor pulled her by her hair to the ground. A second girl hit the woman in the face, and she handed her handbag to her attackers.

The woman followed the girls and asked for her bag back as her keys were in it, but they laughed and the second girl struck her forcefully into the face again.

Gray said he received a report about the incident and a statement was taken from the injured party. Gardai viewed CCTV of the incident which showed the girls involved.

O’Connor was later arrested and interviewed. The handbag was recovered and given back to the injured party. She suffered a black eye and a clump of hair pulled out of her scalp.

Gray said O’Connor has 215 previous convictions, largely for public order offences, but also for three assaults.  He said she has not come to Garda attention since this offense.

Marie Torrens defending, said her client did not want to engage with the Probation Service because she felt she was making progress on her own.

Judge Patricia Ryan imposed a three-year sentence suspended in full for three years on condition O’Connor stays out of trouble.

Leinster Leader

Garlic Cheat’s Sentence Chopped
THE Court of Criminal Appeal has ruled that businessman Paul Begley, who was jailed for six years for failing to pay import duty on garlic, should have his sentence reduced to two years.

Last month the appeal court set aside the sentence, ruling it excessive. Begley remained in custody pending further submissions last week on an alternative sentence.

In Friday’s ruling, the three-judge appeal court said the offenses were both notable and significant and constituted a significant infringement of criminal law. They were carefully planned and involved premeditated acts of deception.

Therefore, the court ruled, an element or aspect of general deterrence "was appropriate to demonstrate the consequences of this type of behavior."

In order to reflect the gravity of the offenses, while crediting him with due weight for the "very significant mitigating feature,” the appropriate sentence was two years.

Begley has served almost a year of his sentence and with remission could be released in the coming months.

There were emotional scenes in court as Begley's family embraced him after the ruling was delivered. He has now returned to prison.

RTE News