Sentence cut for man who supplied painkiller to drug-death friend

Court
Court

A man who supplied a powerful painkiller to a friend who subsequently died of a drug overdose has won an appeal against his three-year sentence.

Senior judges in Belfast cut 34-year-old Timothy Gerard Ryan McIlroy’s term by 12 months based on his guilty plea and delays in the case.

McIlroy, from Iris Street in the city, will now spend one year in prison and a further year on licence for supplying patches of the opiate Fentanyl over a six-month period in 2013.

A 25-year-old man addicted to painkilling medication had died of an overdose in October that year.

One of a range of substances found in his system was McIlroy’s Fentanyl.

The victim had completed a Masters degree in science and just started a new job, with his death said to have left his family heartbroken.

McIlroy, who has a history of cocaine misuse, was initially prescribed Fentanyl patches for back pain.

But he supplied his prescription to his friend and work colleague, who smoked it rather than use the patches.

McIlroy entered into the arrangement to get cocaine or money to feed his own habit.

He admitted being concerned in the supply of Fentanyl between April and September 2013, and supplying the class A substance in October 2013.

Appealing the three-year sentence handed down in January, barrister Frank O’Donoghue QC described it as a “dreadfully sad” case which left one man dead and another in prison.

The Court of Appeal heard the victim was a brilliant academic student who fell into a tragic addiction.

Mr O’Donoghue also argued there had been a failure to give a sentencing discount for delays of up to three years in securing telephone evidence.

Granting the appeal, Lord Justice Gillen cited the increased stress on an accused awaiting his fate while the forensic work was carried out.

He also acknowledged the aggravating feature of the fatal overdose from the painkillers.

“The impact report shows the profound affect the death had on the family of the deceased,” the judge said.

However, he ruled that a two-year sentence should instead be imposed, split between half in custody and half on licence.

McIlroy must also engage in drugs counselling during the probation period.