Man found guilty of importing 10,000 Viagra-like tablets

Tomas Toleikis (29) claimed he thought they were herbal tablets and legal to sell in Ireland

Tomas Toleikis claimed he thought the fake Viagra-like tablets he bought from India were herbal tablets. File Photograph: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Tomas Toleikis claimed he thought the fake Viagra-like tablets he bought from India were herbal tablets. File Photograph: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

 

A warehouse operative has been given a chance to avoid a criminal conviction, heavy fines and a jail sentence for illegally importing 10,000 Viagra -like tablets.

Tomas Toleikis (29), with an address at Barnwell Crescent, Hansfield, Dublin 15, claimed he thought they were herbal tablets.

He planned to set up a website to sell the erectile dysfunction tablets, which could have been worth up to €50,000.

He pleaded guilty at Dublin District Court on Monday to charges under the Irish Medicines Board Act.

It followed an investigation by the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) which is responsible for regulating medicinal and health products in Ireland.

Prosecution solicitor Ronan O’Neill told Judge Anthony Halpin that the 10 charges related to four products containing the prescription-only ingredient Sildenafil, a Viagra-type product.

The brands were not authorised for sale in Ireland and had not been subject to clinical trials, Mr O’Neill said.

The charges related to unlawful importation, keeping for supply and placing of the products on the Irish market.

Toleikis admitted having them shipped to Ireland, “in large quantity”, the court heard.

“These were not for personal use I take it?” the judge asked.

“Sorry, I had to ask,” he added.

HPRA enforcement officer Alan Smullen told the court that on September 7th, 2017 and the following day custom officers detained four packages from India.

Each contained 1,000 tablets and were addressed to Toleikis whose home was searched. A further 4,000 tablets were found at his premises and another batch arrived on a later date that month.

Toleikis was not present when the search was carried out but he later attended a meeting with the HPRA. He made full admissions and was co-operative, the enforcement officer said.

Mr Smullen said the accused told the HPRA it was his intention to set up a website to sell these products and that he brought them into the country to make money.

The HPRA witness said the street value of the tablets ranged between €1 to €5 each. He also said the accused was not a registered medicinal practitioner or a pharmacist.

Mr Smullen agreed with defence counsel Matthew Holmes that Toleikis had no prior convictions had not come to attention since.

Pleading for leniency, the barrister said his client paid four cent per tablet. He had thought they were herbal products and did not realise the erectile dysfunction tablets were illegal to sell, the court was told.

Counsel told the court he researched the products online and now wished he had “put the safety switch on”.

He said Toleikis worked as a warehouse operative and liked hiking and travelling. He was from Lithuania and had lived in Ireland over the last five years, and never came to notice before or since.

The offences, at district court level, can result in fines between €2,500 and €4,000 per charge, as well as a sentence of up to 12 months.

Judge Halpin noted the prosecution faced €3,500 in expenses, the cost of analysing and destruction of the products.

He said he was prepared to apply the Probation of Offenders Act, sparing Toleikis a sentence and a conviction, if he paid the costs. He adjourned the case for 12 months.