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The Central Criminal Court of Dublin. Photo: Sam Boal/

Pregnant British woman jailed for transporting €450,000 of cannabis into Ireland

The 22-year-old, who has an address in north-west London, was stopped at Dublin Airport last year.

A PREGNANT WOMAN has been jailed for transporting over €450,000 cannabis that had been destined for the UK market.

Ayasha Littlejohn (22) with an address in Neasdon in north-west London, was stopped at Dublin Airport last year after customs officers became suspicious about her luggage.

The British national pleaded guilty to possessing drugs for sale or supply October 26 last.

At a hearing in Dublin Circuit Criminal Court today, Judge Martin Nolan sentenced Littlejohn to three-and-a-half years in prison.

Judge Nolan described Littlejohn as “naive” to have embarked upon this transportation scheme, but said she had been put upon by third parties.

The judge said Littlejohn had led a “blameless life” up until this offence and was unlikely to reoffend.

He noted that prison would be more difficult for Littlejohn as she is not Irish and is due to give birth to her first child in June in the Dóchas Centre.

A prosecuting garda told Fergal Foley BL, for the State, that Littlejohn checked in two large suitcases at Dublin Airport last October.

She was in transit through Dublin after travelling from New York en route to Manchester.

Littlejohn had flown from London to New York via Shannon Airport six days earlier, the court heard.

Her two suitcases were analysed by forensic experts and found to contain 22.6kg of vacuum-packed cannabis herb valued at €453,640.

She cooperated with gardaí and said she met a man who took her out for food in London and said he “paid for girls to go on holiday” because he “liked to buy girls nice things”.

The court heard that Littlejohn was not sure if his intentions were sexual.

Littlejohn said when she told the man she wanted to go home as she was ill, his mood changed and he became threatening and said he knew where her parents lived.

The man gave Littlejohn money to buy flights to New York and she was to be paid €10,000 for transporting the suitcases, the court heard.

When she was in New York, the man instructed Littlejohn to change hotels and someone came to her room and left the two suitcases outside the door.

Littlejohn told gardaí she didn’t know what was in them and didn’t open them but felt “vulnerable”.

James Dwyer SC, defending, said Littlejohn said she had a “gut feeling” about the baggage and wouldn’t have minded if they had gotten lost.

The court heard that Littlejohn was in a WhatsApp group with the man giving her instructions, and that his name in the group was “Big Boss”.

When asked by gardaí how she would describe this man’s behaviour, Littlejohn replied: “Grooming.”

Counsel said Littlejohn displayed no signs of wealth and had been doing unpaid training in beauty therapy at the time.

Mr Dwyer said his client was motivated by penury rather than profit.

Littlejohn wrote a letter to court expressing her remorse and said she wants to put the offence behind her and become a good mother.

Her parents and sister, who travelled to Dublin to be present in court, also wrote letters describing their shock and devastation at the offences.

Littlejohn’s mother said they were a close-knit and law-abiding family and that her daughter had been an active member of her local church since childhood.

A letter from her employer in a children’s nursery described Littlejohn as very diligent and trustworthy.

A governor’s report was submitted outlining that Littlejohn is doing well in custody, where she is attending a number of classes including Bible studies, cooking and jewellery making.

Mr Dwyer said Littlejohn was manipulated to commit this offence and that her role was at a very low level.

The intention was the for the drugs to go to the UK, the court heard.

The sentence was backdated to when Littlejohn went into custody on October 26 last.