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Portuguese native who has been resident in Northern Ireland for 12 years did not know cannabis was illegal

A Portuguese native who has resided in Northern Ireland for 12 years and did not know cannabis was illegal has been fined £450.

The judge told the 35-year-old: “You are very lucky to have been getting away with it for 12 years.”

Neuza Helena Oliveira Do Rosario, of Bridgeford Meadows in Portadown, pleaded guilty to disorderly behaviour, resisting police and possession of Class B at Craigavon Magistrates’ Court on Friday.

It was heard that on June 1, police had reason to stop the defendant who was the driver of a Vauxhall Astra on Thomas Street in Portadown.

Upon speaking to Do Rosario she began shouting loudly; this continued despite her being warned.

Following this she was arrested but struggled with officers who were forced to restrain her.

It was heard the defendant, at one point, managed to free her arms from the grasp of officers and also was able to feed her hands out of handcuffs which she had been placed in.

At Banbridge Custody Suite a search was conducted of Do Rosario’s belongings, during which cannabis resin was located in a cigarette box, which had been in her handbag.

During interview, the defendant said she had bought it from someone at a party and that it was for personal use.

Do Rosario claimed she did not know it was an offence to be in possession of this substance as it was okay to have small amounts in Portugal.

District Judge Bernie Kelly stated: “Are you serious? Who comes to another country without knowing the laws.”

The defendant, who represented herself, replied: “I was not aware.”

District Judge Kelly said: “Well you better make yourself aware or else you will end up in prison.”

Upon hearing that Do Rosario had resided in Northern Ireland for 12 years, the judge stated: “You have been taking cannabis not knowing it was illegal for 12 years, surely you know of someone who has been convicted of the offence.

“You are very lucky to have been getting away with it for 12 years.”

Do Rosario was ordered to pay a fine of £450, along with an offender’s levy of £15, within 10 weeks.

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