Northern Ireland

Maghaberry Prison: More time for convicted murderer caught smuggling drugs

Maghaberry Prison Image copyright Other
Image caption Cummings had been returning to Maghaberry Prison when he was caught with the drugs

A convicted murderer caught smuggling drugs into a County Antrim jail after a home visit has had an additional ten months added to his sentence.

Samuel David Joseph Cummings was given 15 years for murdering a man outside a nightclub in Portrush in 2000.

The Coleraine man was to have been eligible for release this November.

However, his sentence has been increased after he admitted eight drugs offences arising from an incident at Maghaberry prison on 7 February 2014.

A crown prosecutor said Cummings, who is originally from The Crescent area of Coleraine, was searched at the prison when he returned from visiting his family.

He appeared unsteady on his feet, and his lips and tongue were blue.

He was searched and when he was asked to remove his underwear, a package fell to the floor. Two further packages were also found.

The court heard the drugs were cannabis resin, herbal cannabis, 618 diazepam tablets and 810 phenazepam tablets.

When he was interviewed, Cummings' solicitor handed in a prepared statement which revealed he had received bad news about the health of three close relatives.

'Calm down'

He also admitted having anger management issues and said he had consumed 32 diazepam tablets "to calm down" when he was told the news.

Cummings was sentenced to life in 2001 for the murder of Guy Harper, 25, who was kicked to death outside Kelly's nightclub in Portrush.

The court also heard that during his time in prison, Cummings committed two drugs offences.

Cummings barrister said that despite this client having a "fairly high intellectual ability", Cummings realised it was an "astoundingly stupid" thing to do.

The defence barrister said Cummings acted as he did after receiving a "triple whammy" about the ill health of close relatives.

This bad news, the barrister said, led to Cummings consuming 32 diazepam tablets which rendered his memory thereafter as "fairly sketchy".

The barrister said his client's attempt to "blindside" the security staff at the prison entrance who carried out the search was unsophisticated.

The barrister added: "It is a profound regret of his that this stupid act has put in jeopardy the early release date of November this year."

The judge said the incident was "crude and unsophisticated" and said Cummings' actions could have ramifications for the day release system.

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