Woman unaware of cocaine worth €183k in bags at airport, court hears

Latvian national with mental health difficulties given partly suspended sentence

Woman had been wandering around on the landside of Dublin Airport having successfully passed through customs when she came to the attention of officers. File photograph: Kate Geraghty

Woman had been wandering around on the landside of Dublin Airport having successfully passed through customs when she came to the attention of officers. File photograph: Kate Geraghty

 

A Latvian woman who spent two days wandering around Dublin Airport unaware that she had €183,000 worth of cocaine hidden in her luggage has been given a partly suspended sentence.

Maja Kajuka (58), who has mental health difficulties, later told custom officers that she had been working for a design company in Latvia for seven years and her employer had asked her to travel to Brazil to deliver two folders of laminated photographs.

Garda Conor Garland told Dara Hayes BL, prosecuting, that Kajuka said she remained in Brazil for two weeks after handing over the photographs to a contact there.

The folders of photographs were returned to her and she was instructed to travel further to Dublin. She said she was advised to meet with another Brazilian man at the airport to hand over the photographs and he would provide her with her ticket home.

Gda Garland said Kajuka claimed she lost her mobile phone and was unable to contact the Brazilian man in Dublin Airport to arrange a rendezvous. She had been wandering around on the landside of Dublin Airport having successfully passed through customs when she came to the attention of officers.

Gda Garland agreed with Fiona Murphy SC, defending, that it was “very bizarre set of circumstances” and her client was “hanging around the airport because she didn’t know what to do with herself”.

He accepted that she was “clearly disorientated” when she was discovered by officers in the airport and that she had been “used by others”.

Gda Garland told Judge Martin Nolan that he was satisfied that Kajuka was used as a courier and was unaware that there were drugs in the folders.

He said he came to that conclusion based on the fact that she had cleared customs and was free to leave to Dublin Airport but instead she remained in the building.

Kajuka, who is originally from Riga in Latvia, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possession of 2.6Kg of cocaine at Dublin Airport on July 13th, 2019. She has no previous convictions and had been remanded in custody since.

The drugs were discovered concealed between two photographs that had been laminated together back to back, and there were 75 sets of these paired photographs which were contained in two folders.

Judge Nolan sentenced Kajuka to four and half years in prison but suspended the balance on condition that she leave Ireland and return to Latvia within two weeks. He said she is not to be released from prison until she has firm arrangements to return to Latvia.

He said the very fair evidence of Gda Garland suggested that she displayed no knowledge of the fact that she had cocaine in her possession.

“He says very candidly that this woman didn’t know about the presence of the cocaine,” Judge Nolan said before he added that she unfortunately lost her phone and was “at a loss of what to do”.

He said she had “very apparent psychiatric problems” and noted that it would be best for her to return to Latvia to resume her treatment there.

“Her moral culpability is very low and some person took advantage of her, knowing her vulnerability,” Judge Nolan said before he added he thought it would “be unjust to continue to imprison her in Ireland”.

Ms Murphy handed in a report outlining her client’s serious mental health issues. She said her client wished to ret urn to Latvia and the defence team could arrange for her flight home.