Garda jailed for stealing €70 cannabis exhibit from station while drunk at work

Court told Holly Lane (34) sent partner a text saying ‘Baby, I got you this’ alongside picture of bag containing drug

A garda who was drunk at work when she sent her partner a picture of drugs and a text message saying “Baby, I got you this” has been given six months in jail for stealing a €70 cannabis exhibit.

Holly Lane (34) denied the theft of cannabis evidence seized by another officer, unlawful possession of cannabis and having it for sale or supply at Store Street Garda station on December 12th, 2021.

However, Judge John Hughes on Monday found her guilty following a non-jury trial at Dublin District Court. He imposed a nine-month sentence but suspended the final three months on condition that Lane remain on supervised probation for two years and attend counselling for alcohol and drug addiction.

Lane had been suspended since the date of the incident and her career in the force is over, her barrister David Staunton said.


Garda Sgt Coleen Doherty told the court she was the station officer in charge on the date in question and Lane’s shift started at 7pm. She said by 1.30am she had not seen Lane for several hours and went to find her. Garda Peter Byrne, from the community policing office, told her Lane was “unsteady on her feet”.

Lane was found in a second-floor changing room in a “dishevelled looking” state. Sgt Doherty said she believed Lane was intoxicated from the way she presented and spoke to her.

It was decided that Lane would have to be brought home. When colleagues looked for her car keys they found a half bottle of vodka in her bag and a quarter bottle of vodka in her changing-room locker.

Lane told them she had taken a “sip” and insisted she was not intoxicated. She thought her car keys were in a folder in the community office where she had been working earlier.

Sgt Doherty saw her folder on a desk and then located her bag, which she opened. There was a white plastic bag inside and a “strong smell of cannabis from that”, she said.

The sergeant was later shown a screenshot posted by Lane to a work WhatsApp group. It featured an image and text saying “Look what I got for you”. Sgt Doherty was concerned the image was of the bag of cannabis, which may have been from a drug supply offence.

A colleague had seized the cannabis earlier that month and was unable to place it in the usual drug safe because a printer was not working to label the package. He put it in his own locker with a file on top in the community policing office.

However, on the day of the offence he noticed there had been some rummaging in his locker. The court heard the contents of another locker were emptied on to the floor.

Lane did not testify but gave a prepared statement to investigators from Garda headquarters saying she had been in the office to work on files for two drug prosecutions.

She claimed she did not have enough bags when preparing exhibits but saw some more in a locker and took them out. Lane claimed other items “fell” out.

She admitted going to the female changing rooms and having some vodka, saying she had developed severe addiction issues due to stress and feeling overwhelmed. She said it was the second time she had consumed alcohol while on duty.

Lane maintained that she returned and saw the cannabis on the desk and did not take it. She tried to convince gardaí that she had taken anti-anxiety medication, which exacerbated the effects of the alcohol.

She said the text message was a joke. The court heard it said, “Baby, I got you this,” and went into her work WhatsApp group in error, but there was a lighthearted reply.

However, Judge Hughes also heard Lane told one of her colleagues she had meant to send it to her girlfriend. The judge did not accept her account.

The judge noted testimonials and pleas for leniency from Mr Staunton, who said Lane had attended treatment for her mental health and had been sober for a year.

Judge Hughes said Lane was in a significant position of trust and power as a garda. He set appeal bail at €500 if she wants to challenge the verdict or sentence.