Collins wrote to judge seeking leniency for drug dealer

Fianna Fáil justice spokesman appealed on behalf of Limerick criminal

Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Niall Collins. File Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Niall Collins. File Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times


Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Niall Collins wrote to a judge asking him not to jail a convicted drug dealer, it emerged at a sentencing hearing this week.

At a sitting of Limerick Circuit Criminal Court, Judge Carroll Moran was asked not to attach any weight to the letter written by the TD. The handwritten letter was presented by lawyers representing a 40- year-old father of four from Co Limerick.

Earlier this year, Hugo Porter of St Patrick’s Villa’s , Castleconnell, Co Limerick, pleaded guilty to possession of cannabis and cannabis resin for the purpose of sale or supply.

The drugs, which had a street value of almost €18,000, were recovered by gardaí in a field at Garden Hill, Castleconnell, on June 24th, 2011.

At Porter’s sentencing hearing on Monday, the judge was told the convicted man was the sole carer of his four young children as his wife had died in tragic circumstances earlier this year.

Defence counsel Michael Collins argued that the family circumstances of the accused man placed the case in the “exceptional category”. He said this was supported by the letter written by Deputy Collins, which was presented to the judge.

The letter, which was not read out in court, was dated last month and was written on personalised headed paper and included Niall Collins’s photograph and contact details.

Prosecution counsel John O’Sullivan urged the judge “not to attach too much weight” to the letter.

He said the practice of public representatives writing to sentencing judges was “not uncommon” in the recent past but that it was no longer commonplace.

A co-accused in the drugs case, Alan Lysaght (39), from Scanlon Park, Castleconnell, was jailed for three years with the final year suspended.

Adjourning sentencing in the case of Porter, the judge said he had to consider the possible activation of a suspended sentence for an earlier assault case and an appropriate sentence for the drugs case. A two-year prison sentence was suspended in 2009 for an assault in which Porter produced a broken glass during a dispute in Co Clare.

Sentencing was adjourned until October 10th next.