Maths book proofreader avoids jail for drug crime

Padraig Conlon 25 Nov 2022

By Isabel Hayes and Claire Henry

A “vulnerable” maths book proofreader who was caught with over €60,000 worth of cannabis and €20,000 in proceeds of crime has been given a fully suspended sentence due to his exceptional circumstances.

Barry O’Driscoll (40) of Cloonlara Square, Phoenix Park, Dublin, was spotted by gardaí with just under €40,000 worth of cannabis in a carpark on Blackhorse Avenue in April last year.

His home was then searched and a further €19,352 of cannabis, some LSD tablets and just over €19,000 in cash was seized.

O’Driscoll pleaded guilty to two counts of possessing drugs for sale or supply and one count of handling the proceeds of crime at his home on April 15, 2021.

He has no previous convictions.

Sentencing him today, Judge Orla Crowe said there were exceptional circumstances in this case.

Medical reports were handed into court outlining that O’Driscoll is bipolar, is on the autism spectrum and has ADHD, with the latter two not diagnosed until March 2021.

This led to O’Driscoll suffering from social difficulties which led him to turn to drink and drugs.

Judge Crowe said these were “serious crimes” but the accused was not considered a “big player” in the operation.

She took into account a number of mitigating factors including his full cooperation, his mental health difficulties, his clean urine analysis over the past one and a half years and his ongoing charity work.

The judge also took into account the sworn testimonies and expert medical reports, a letter of remorse from O’Driscoll, and a probation report which stated he is at a low risk of re-offending.

A number of letters were handed into court, including one from his father and a letter signed by fifty-five people outlining their support for O’Driscoll.

Judge Crowe imposed a sentence of two and a half years for the two counts of possessing drugs for sale and supply and two years for handling the proceeds of crime.

“Having carefully considered all of the evidence and seeing that the accused is a very vulnerable person who is now contributing considerably to society, his rehabilitation, his medical misdiagnosis for many years and that he has now been put on the correct and effective medication, it is the court’s view to impose a wholly suspended sentence,” the judge said.

The court heard that on the day in question, gardaí were given a tip-off in relation to a drug dealing operation. At the car park, O’Driscoll and a co-accused were seen exchanging drugs. The other man was given a two-and-a-half-year sentence for his role in the operation, the court heard.

Defence counsel, Michael Bowman SC, told the court that O’Driscoll was not high up in the drug dealing operation and had never met his co-accused before. He said O’Driscoll has suffered from significant mental health issues since he was a teenager and has been hospitalised a number of times.

Mr Bowman said O’Driscoll was extremely vulnerable and his parents had “tried to cocoon him” as much as they could. He excelled academically and works for his father as a proofreader for academic maths textbooks, the court heard.

He got involved in criminality after he was befriended by drug dealers, the court heard. “For the first time in his life, people looked up to him and wanted to be his friend,” Mr Bowman said.

The court heard that he is now drug-free, in stable accommodation and on the correct medication due to his new diagnosis.

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