Pensioner acquitted of cannabis possession for sale or supply

Accused (68) told arresting gardaí at scene: ‘It’s for my glaucoma. I have emphysema’

In his closing speech defending counsel asked the jury, ‘is it suggested she was walking up and down the Square in Tallaght to sell it?’ File photograph: Getty

In his closing speech defending counsel asked the jury, ‘is it suggested she was walking up and down the Square in Tallaght to sell it?’ File photograph: Getty

 

A legally blind Dublin pensioner who did not expect her cannabis plants to grow as large as they did has been acquitted of possessing close to a third of a kilogram of the drug for sale or supply.

Evelyn Corrigan (68) of Redwood Close in Tallaght, Dublin, pleaded guilty to possession of 325.7g of cannabis at her home on December 11th 2017, but denied selling it – arguing she was only making medicine to treat her pain.

In his closing speech, James Dwyer SC, defending, asked the jury if his client looked like a drug dealer to them.

“Is it suggested she was walking up and down the Square in Tallaght to sell it? Is this Breaking Bad meets Golden Girls?” he asked.

Following a trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, a jury on Friday returned a verdict of not guilty in relation to the charge of possession of cannabis for sale or supply.

Judge Pauline Codd dismissed the charge of drugs possession under the Probation Act.

During the trial, Sgt Gearóid O’Brien confirmed to Joseph Barnes, prosecuting, that eight jars of what turned out to be cannabis were found in a spare bedroom in the house during a search and a weighing scales was also discovered at the property.

Ms Corrigan admitted what it was, telling gardaí­ at the scene: “It’s for my glaucoma. I have emphysema.” She denied selling it.

Sgt O’Brien showed the court a plastic bag of green material and told the court it was the contents of the eight jars, which he had amalgamated into a single exhibit.

When Ms Corrigan was brought in for interview the following July, she was shown the same bag.

“Did youse mix it all up?” she said, “Because some of it was leaves and it’s all mixed up now. I’ve got OCD, that’s no good.”

She confirmed it was her’s but said: “It was hard work all that, it grew so fast . . . god it was hardly worth it – easier to buy it.”

Mr Dwyer cross-examined Sgt O’Brien and put it to him that that Ms Corrigan had no previous convictions.

“Not even a parking ticket,” replied the sergeant.

“She’s legally blind, isn’t she?” asked counsel.

“As far as I’m aware, judge,” replied the sergeant.

Sgt O’Brien said he had “amalgamated” the contents of the jars to weigh the material together.

“So what we have in that jar includes buds and stalks and leaves,” asked Mr Dwyer.

“Yes,” replied the sergeant.

“Stalks and leaves are the parts of the cannabis plant that contain a very low concentration of THC?” asked counsel.

“Yes,” replied the sergeant.

“That’s what gives the – for want of a better word – soothing effect to the consumer?” asked counsel.

“So I’m led to believe. I’ve never tried it, judge,” he replied.

“They want to buy the buds because that’s where the good stuff is?” asked Mr Dwyer.

“I have seen both, but yes, in general yes,” replied Sgt O’Brien.

Mr Dwyer called Ms Corrigan to give evidence in her own defence, and said she had been making an extract from the material to treat pain – saying the CBD oil legally available “didn’t work as good”.

Irish climate

She bought the seeds from a Dutch firm, picking a variety called Friesian Dew, which was suitable to grow outdoors in the Irish climate, and sowed three seeds in plant pots in her garden.

“They grew very big,” she said. “I didn’t know they’d grow so big.”

Cross-examining her, Mr Barnes put it to her that the variety she had bought was a “very potent strain of ‘skunk’ ” and asked why it would be more effective than the CBD sold legally here.

“CBD has the THC taken out of it,” replied Ms Corrigan. “When the THC is in it it works better. It works as a painkiller,” she said.

Mr Barnes put it to her that the quantity in the bag – some 325.7g – meant she was presumed to have possession of the drugs for sale and supply.

“No, I never intended to give it to anybody else,” she said.

“Did you?” asked counsel.

“No I didn’t,” she replied.

“I have to put it to you, Ms Corrigan, that’s a very significant amount of cannabis,” said Mr Barnes.

“I didn’t realise it was that much. I didn’t realise the three plants were going to make that much,” she said.

The court heard that Ms Corrigan suffered from asthma, a dystrophy affecting her left eye, a transient ischemic attack, generalised anxiety disorder, and degenerative arthritis of her lower back.

Giving evidence via a letter to the court her GP, Deborah McGrane, said that by using her own CBD oil Ms Corrigan was able to manage her pain and anxiety well enough to take exercise.

“Since stopping her CBD her symptoms have returned and we have been trying to manage it by more conventional means,” she said.