Judge in drug case takes ‘unusual step in exceptional circumstances’

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A Moira man who smuggled a powerful pain killer into jail for his friend escaped going to prison himself when the judge suspended his 12 month sentence.

Freeing 46-year-old Wayne Downey at Craigavon Crown Court, Judge Patrick Lynch QC said while he accepted the “misguided efforts” to smuggle Fentanyl patches into Maghaberry, the judge warned Downey “you cannot afford to get in the wrong side of the law again”.

He told Downey, whose nephew Jamie stood in the very same dock two years ago charged with setting fire to Cody the collie dog, that bringing drugs of any type into a prison setting was serious of itself but that the supply of class A drugs “normally receives condign disapproval and punishment from these courts”.

Judge Lynch added, however, that he believed the circumstances giving rise to Downey’s two offences were exceptional so that allowed him to take the unusual step of suspended the jail sentence.

Earlier Downey, from the Moira Road in Lisburn, pleaded guilty to conveying a list A article into HMP Maghaberry and to supplying a class A drug, namely Fentanyl, to another on 28 November 2014.

That attempted smuggling came just a few weeks after his nephew was jailed for his role in the gruesome death of Cody.

Last Thursday, prosecuting lawyer Joseph Murphy told the court how Downey, a woman and a young child were visiting a prisoner when Downey “bought a number of items from the tuck shop including a packet of crisps.”

“After he finished the crisps he removes an object from his sleeve, puts it in the packet and puts it in front of the prisoner and the prisoner is seen taking the object from the crisps and putting it in his sleeve,” said Mr Murphy adding however that prison staff “intervened immediately”.

Downey “made admissions immediately at the scene” and during later police interviews, claimed he had smuggled the class A drugs because his friend “was suffering from severe sciatic nerve problems”.

Describing the case as unusual because it didn’t involved the “usual cannabis or diazepam” being smuggled into jail, defence barrister Joel Lindsay told the court there was medical evidence that Downey’s friend, who was also his employee, was genuinely prescribed the medication but had not been receiving it whilst he was in custody.

“His wife repeatedly rang the defendant saying ‘you suffer from the same thing, could you bring him something to help him’ and stupidly, he did that,” said the lawyer.

Referring to the case where his nephew was jailed for six months for perverting the course of justice in relation to the horrific death of Cody the collie dog, Mr Lindsay revealed the last few years “have been a difficult time because of previous cases which have been through this court”.

Last Thursday, Mr Lindsay described how as a result of the notoriety attached to that case Wayne Downey and his partner, who essentially “adopted” his nephew Jamie, had been “demented to such an extent text their house is up for sale and their business suffered significantly.”

While the patches Downey had smuggled in for his friend were, as the judge said he accepted, to be used as intended, there is documentary evidence that fentanyl infused transdermal patches are very often abused with users extracting the powerful painkiller from them.