The 'champion' of Belfast's famous St Anne's Cathedral has expressed her remorse after being convicted of drug dealing alongside her partner.
Holly Wilson (29), the high-profile head of commercial business at St Anne's, sobbed as her partner Peter O'Hare was jailed last week over what the judge described as a "well-run commercial" cannabis dealing operation.
Wilson, who received a suspended sentence for her lesser role, told Sunday Life: "It's been a very difficult time and a very strange few days".
But she said her cathedral colleagues had been very supportive.
Newtownabbey couple O'Hare (30) and Wilson were arrested following a police operation which uncovered over £9,000 in cash and 880 grams of cannabis with a street value of around £6,000 in their then south Belfast home.
At a tearful sentencing hearing at Antrim Crown Court, Wilson wept as O'Hare, who the court heard had turned to drug dealing to finance his university degree in radiography and provide for his son, was jailed.
O'Hare sat with his head in his hands, shoulders shaking, while Wilson wept uncontrollably as Judge Neil Rafferty QC ordered O'Hare to surrender himself to custody.
"Please, please no," she pleaded through her tears.
At an earlier hearing, the pair from Fairview Crescent admitted possessing cannabis with intent to supply in 2019.
O'Hare, who also admitted supplying the class B drug and possessing criminal property, was handed a 12-month sentence with half to be served on licence.
Wilson - hailed as the 'cathedral champion' on the St Anne's website - was given a seven-month jail term suspended for three years.
She is still employed by St Anne's pending an internal investigation.
Wilson told Sunday Life they were both very sorry for their actions and hoped to rebuild their lives when he leaves jail.
"I'm his partner and I will remain his partner and it's very upsetting what has happened but he has accepted responsibility from the word go and here we are," she said.
"It's been a long, exhausting process. Unfortunately I was involved as Peter's partner and the fact he's not here is really sad. These are really sad circumstances and I know it shocked a lot of people that this was the outcome of it.
"It's his first offence and he was bettering his life significantly. What was said in the courtroom is the situation.
"The key thing for me and Peter is there has been a lot of remorse shown and we'll move forward. He'll be home eventually and hopefully we can rebuild our lives."
Wilson played down her involvement in the operation, insisting most of the criminal activity had taken place before she became involved.
She added: "It's been a very difficult time and a very strange few days. It's actually historic, prior to me meeting Peter - the circumstances. I was just his partner at the time of arrest and because I co-live with him I was taken through the process as well.
"It was just financial hardship. It was very out of character and was prior to me mostly."
Wilson joined Belfast's St Anne's Cathedral in 2017 as events and marketing manager and in August 2019 was promoted to head of commercial business.
She told Sunday Life: "My colleagues at the cathedral have been very supportive. We're going through a process internally.
"I have every faith they will do what is right, but I am very understanding of the situation.
"I'm under no illusions, but they have been very supportive both pastorally and in my role as an employee.
"I don't know what the outcome will be, but I am willingly engaging in that.
"The main thing for me is getting my family moving forward and whatever happens will happen."
The court heard police searched a property on Ardenlee Court in south Belfast, where Wilson and O'Hare lived, on April 18, 2019.
Officers uncovered drugs and cash hidden all over the property.
When O'Hare was questioned by detectives, he "unburdened his soul" and told cops that, having become unemployed, he was "under pressure to provide for his son" from a previous relationship.
Wilson was arrested at the same time and Judge Rafferty said it was clear she became involved due to a "tug on her heartstrings" in that when O'Hare wasn't there, she would supply the cannabis to customers.
"It's with great sadness that I categorise this as commercial dealing," he told the pair.
"It may have been to a limited number of friends and trusted fellow users, but nevertheless it has all the hallmarks of well-run commercial dealing in class B drugs."
Describing O'Hare as "clearly an intelligent individual," Judge Rafferty revealed that he had a master's degree in software design but when he lost his job, he put himself through university and got a first in a radiography degree.
The judge said given his intelligence it beggared belief that he went down the criminal route as his convictions will now cause "great difficulties with entering an NHS setting."
As Wilson sobbed, Judge Rafferty told the self-confessed dealers: "I don't find this job easy at times."
He added: "The difficulty is that everyone else has little sons as well and those little sons sometimes get involved in drugs, buy drugs.
"Sometimes, unfortunately, they end up dying from these drugs, so I apologise for the pain that I have caused, but the pain has been caused by the commission of the criminal offences."