Drug courier is jailed despite leniency plea
A 34-year-old north Belfast man caught ferrying drugs across the city has been jailed despite calls for leniency.
Judge Gordon Kerr told father-of-two Declan Peter Aylward from Newington Avenue that in drugs cases he was "obliged" to follow the legal guidelines in all but the most exceptional of cases.
The Belfast Crown Court judge said he was prepared to give Aylward "considerable allowance" given his guilty plea, the impressive "bundle" of references, including one from the Bishop of Derry, and Aylward's past clear record.
In all Alyward, who admitted possessing both class A drugs and cannabis with intent to supply in December 2014, was jailed for a total of nine months after the sentence was reduced by more than two years.
Prosecutor Gareth Purvis said police were suspicious of Alyward's car after it was stopped at a checkpoint on Stockman's Lane in west Belfast.
Officers could smell a strong aroma of cannabis and later found a holdall containing two bags of the class B drug together with a quantity of cocaine. Mr Purvis said that Aylward during interview admitted to being a courier, claiming he had been under pressure, having run up considerable debts. He was told "if he made the run, that debt would be cleared".
Defence lawyer Martin Morgan described the case as a tragedy in which Aylward stood to lose everything.