By Brion Hoban
A man who imported over €19,000 of cannabis with the intention of using it himself as pain relief has received a fully suspended sentence.
Llyod Pennant (60) was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in 2000 and is unable to take injections to treat his condition when his blood pressure drops below a certain level.
Pennant with an address at Bridge Street, Dundalk, Co Louth, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to importing drugs at Terminal 2, Alexandra Road, Dublin Port, on June 4, 2019.
He also pleaded guilty to possession of cannabis for sale or supply at the same address on the same date. He has 16 previous convictions, including convictions for deception, using a false instrument and possession of stolen property.
Garda Paul Osbourne told Michael Hourigan BL, prosecuting, that on the date in question, Pennant was stopped by customs officials having disembarked from a ferry and searched. The accused told the officials that he was carrying cannabis.
The cannabis was discovered in his hand luggage in two separate bags. The total value of the cannabis was €19,800.
Gda Osbourne agreed with Oisin Clarke BL, defending, that his client told customs officials that he collected the drugs himself in the UK and his intention was to use them himself. He agreed Pennant said he had MS and had gotten the cannabis for that reason.
Mr Clarke said his client was a UK national who was born in London, but has resided in Ireland for some time. He said his client has spent five months in custody on this matter.
Counsel said his client was diagnosed with MS in 2000, but his doctors believe he has had it for longer. Pennant also has kidney difficulties and his kidneys are currently operating at 17% efficiency.
Mr Clarke said his client had been receiving injections to treat his MS, but he cannot take them when his blood pressure drops below a certain level. He said his client had been using the cannabis to alleviate the pain and would have used up the cannabis he got from the UK in five or six months.
Judge Martin Nolan said it was “reasonably believable” that Pennant was going to use the drugs for self-medication. He said his stay in prison would be “very difficult” if he imposed a sentence.
Judge Nolan said this was “an exceptional case” principally because of the accused suffering from MS. He said he thinks Pennant needs “proper medical treatment in a non-stressful situation”.
He sentenced Pennant to four years imprisonment, but suspended the entirety of the sentence on strict conditions.