Terminally ill man had cocaine to celebrate daughter’s communion

Forty year old who admitted intent to sell drug given suspended jail sentence

A terminally ill man who told gardaí­ he had cocaine in his house to celebrate his daughter’s first communion has been given a two year suspended sentence.

Christopher Donoghue (40) of Leo Fitzgerald House, Erne St, Dublin 2, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possession of cocaine with intent to supply at his address in May 19th, 2017. The court heard that Donoghue is suffering from terminal cancer.

Sergeant Barry Moran said that gardaí­mounted a surveillance operation after he got a tip off.

A warrant was secured and Donoghue co-operated with gardaí­ when they raided his home, telling them some of the cocaine found was to be used at a weekend celebration of his daughter’s first communion.

Donoghue immediately volunteered the fact that he had two bags of cocaine. Gardaí also found weighing scales and plastic bags. The cocaine weighed 25.199 grams and had an estimated street value of €1,763.

Donoghue admitted that some of the cocaine was to be sold, with him keeping some of the profit, and some was to be used “for his daughter’s first communion at the weekend”.

The court heard Donoghue had 12 previous convictions for drug dealing, theft, criminal damage and public order violations. However, since 2017, he had not come to the attention of gardaí.

Mark Lynam BL, defending, told Judge Orla Crowe that Donoghue was terminally ill with pancreatic cancer and was “quite unwell”.

He had had a tumour removed from his gut in June 2020 and then undergone chemotherapy. In August 2021, the cancer returned and he was now receiving palliative care.

The house where the drugs had been found was his partner’s home. He was now living in the care of his parents whose home was also in Leo Fitzgerald House.

Mr Lynam said Donoghue’s gambling addiction was now out in the open and his arrest was “the end of the road for him”. He was drug free since.

It was “not in the interests of justice to impose an immediate custodial sentence”, Mr Lynam suggested.

Judge Crowe agreed, saying that but for Donoghue’s health, she would have sentenced him to two years and six months in jail. It was a “highly unusual situation“; at his age, as a father, and with his previous convictions, Donoghue “should know better”.

But the entire situation was “coloured” by his terminal condition, the judge said. Because of his guilty plea and his co-operation with the gardaí, she imposed a sentence of two years imprisonment but suspended it entirely.

Donoghue thanked her and left the court.