Just two of the 13 convictions in Donegal in recent years for possession of large amounts of illegal drugs resulted in the full mandatory sentence of ten years.
Figures for the period from 2006 to 2011 also show an increase in the number of convictions for possession of drugs over €12,500 in the county. Only two of the convictions under 15A of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977 resulted in the full ‘mandatory minimum’ sentence.
Of the 13 convictions for drug dealing over €12,500 over the last five years, just two resulted in the mandatory sentence.
The 10-year sentence was introduced in 1996 to combat major drug dealers but judges can opt out of the 10-year sentence if there are “exceptional and specific circumstances”, such as early guilty pleas and co-operation with gardaí.
The number of convictions for possession with large quantities of drugs have increased nationally from 82 in 2006 to 217 last year. In Donegal there were no convictions in 2006 but this rose to five last year.
The figures, obtained by the Irish Independent and posted on the website thestory.ie, show that in 2007 there were two convictions under Section 15A in Letterkenny Circuit Court which resulted in a 12-month and a 14-month sentence.
In 2008 two of the three convictions resulted in 10-year sentences with the third receiving a six-year sentence. The following year there was just one conviction under Section 15A which received a suspended three-year sentence. In 2010 there were two convictions with sentences of two years and six months handed own.
The figures show that last year had the highest number of convictions since 2006 with five. The longest sentence handed down last year was for six years.