A SENIOR lay cathedral employee in the Church of Ireland has been given a suspended sentence for drug-dealing.
Holly Wilson, aged 27, of Fairview Crescent, Newtownabbey, the commercial business manager of St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast, was sentenced to prison for seven months, suspended for three years, after she admitted possessing cannabis with intent to supply.
Antrim Crown Court heard on Wednesday of last week that she and her partner, Peter O’Hare, had been arrested in April 2019 during a police raid on their home in Ardenlee Court, south Belfast. Police officers found 880g of cannabis, with a street value of about £6000, and more than £9000 in cash.
Mr O’Hare, 30, who also admitted possession and supplying class-B drugs and possessing criminal property, was sentenced to 12 months, with half to be served on licence. The court was told that O’Hare had turned to drug-dealing to finance his university degree in radiography and to provide for his son.
Passing sentence, Judge Neil Rafferty QC said: “It’s with great sadness that I categorise this as commercial dealing. It may have been to a limited number of friends and trusted fellow-users, but nevertheless it has all the hallmarks of well-run commercial dealing in class-B drugs.”
Ms Wilson joined the cathedral in 2017 as events and marketing manager, and, in 2019, was promoted to head of commercial business with a brief to oversee events and promotion and generate income for the cathedral.
Ms Wilson, who graduated from Coleraine University with a degree in media studies and English, told the Belfast newspaper Sunday Life: “It’s been a very difficult time and a very strange few days.”
The Dean, the Very Revd Stephen Forde, said: “The cathedral is currently following disciplinary procedures, and therefore is not in a position to comment further at present.”