Father and son’s drugs convictions overturned

A father and son from Armagh who were jailed for10 and six years for possessing cannabis for sale and supply in Donegal in August 2007 have had their convictions overturned, and a retrial ordered.

The two were arrested after they accepted five parcels containing herbal cannabis with an estimated street value of half a million euro.

50 year old Kieran Smyth, and his 27 year old son Kieran Junior from Desart Lane in Armagh were arrested in Falcarragh by gardai posing as delivery men after the two took delivery of the drugs, which gardai had been tracking. They were convicted and sentenced the following year.

The men's lawyers argued at the time that Kieran Smyth Junior had agreed to collect the items and sign for them under a false name at the request of a third party, in the belief that they were computer parts.

This week, the men's lawyers successfully argued to the Court of Criminal Appeal that in cases of drug possession, a defendant can argue as a defence that he or she was not aware that items in their possession were drugs.

However, comments by the judge in the course of his summing up may have inadvertantly led to misdirection of the jury, by incorrectly stating that the burden of proving the guilt of the accused rested with the prosecution and that “this never shifted to the defence”.