Eight years in jail for ‘foolish’ man who was sent drugs package

The Royal Court (37893025)

A “VULNERABLE, naive and foolish” man who was sent nearly £80,000-worth of ecstasy to stash for an unknown dealer has been jailed for eight years.

Mark James Maher (51) was sent a package containing 2,641 tablets on 6 January last year.

The Superior Number of the Royal Court, which convenes for the most serious cases, heard that the pills would have had a street value of between £52,000 and £80,000 in Jersey and that Maher had been willing to act as “a warehouseman” for the package.

He was convicted of importing drugs following a trial last year – but continues to protest his innocence, saying he provided his address at the Aztec House homeless shelter for delivery of a package but had no idea what it contained.

Outlining the case, Crown Advocate Luke Sette, prosecuting, said Customs officers examined the package addressed to Maher and found it contained a huge quantity of tablets, which when tested were revealed to be ecstasy.

They removed the drugs but inserted tracking and audio devices into the dummy parcel and allowed it to continue to Maher’s room at Aztec House.

Mark Maher (37886456)

The tracking device showed that Maher had received the package and had put it in a cupboard in his room without opening it. Shortly afterwards he sent a text message containing only an asterisk.

Maher had not been in prison before, but Advocate Sette said he had been assessed as being at “high risk of general reconviction within 12 months”.

He added: “He does not have the benefit of an early guilty plea and he is not of previously good character.”

He recommended a sentence of ten years.

But Advocate Olaf Blakeley, defending, said ten years was “manifestly excessive”.

He said Maher had provided his address for delivery because he “did not have the sense or strength to say no”.

The advocate added: “He allowed his address to be used. He did not know what was in the package. On reflection he realises there was a risk it could have been drugs.

“People are often used. He is another of those vulnerable people who have been used by people higher up the chain. He is not the brains behind this. There is no evidence he received money for this. He is at the very bottom.”

Deputy Bailiff Robert MacRae said: “Those who act as ‘warehousemen’ or ‘minders’ for these drugs play a fundamental role in ensuring that dangerous drugs reach the streets of Jersey.

“They provide a safe haven for drug dealers in ensuring that the risk of their detection is minimised.”

However, he said the Jurats agreed that Maher had been “vulnerable, naive and foolish” in his actions and so were reducing the Crown’s suggested sentence by two years.

The Jurats sitting were Elizabeth Dulake, Steven Austin-Vautier, Gareth Hughes, Andrew Cornish and David Le Heuzé.

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