NO drug dealer convicted of the higher level of drug dealing in Cork Circuit Court last year was given the mandatory ten-year sentence.
Information provided to The Echo by the Courts Service through the Freedom of Information Act show that there were 23 people sentenced in Cork Circuit Court for offences for possession of more than €13,000 worth of drugs for dealing.
Under Section 15(A) of the Misuse of Drugs Act, a ten-year sentence is the mandatory minimum penalty for those convicted of possessing more than €13,000 worth of drugs for sale or supply.The sentence can range up to life imprisonment.
However, the legislation allows judges to be lenient if there are mitigating circumstances such as early guilty pleas or cooperation with gardaí.
The longest sentence handed down under the legislation was a period of ten years, with 18 months suspended, giving the convicted offender a sentence of eight-and-a-half years.
A judge has the discretion to depart from the mandatory minimum sentence if there are deemed to be exceptional circumstances in the case such as pressure on the individual, or a proven commitment to changing their lives around.
A seven year sentence, with the final three years suspended was the penalty for one offender, while another dealer had their full five-year sentence suspended.
In a separate case, the offender was given a five-year sentence with the final three years suspended. Another was given a three-year sentence, with half suspended.
There was one case which was dealt with outside the Section 15(A) in which a 17-year-sentence handed down last August was quashed last December and a 13-year-sentence was imposed.
Because it was not dealt with under Section 15(A) of the act, the sentencing judges were not bound by the mandatory sentence.