A man convicted of possessing an estimated half kilo of cannabis was asked how he knew he wasn’t buying “dried nettles”, or something scented with “dogs’ urine”.
Judge Seamus Hughes made these tongue-in-cheek queries of Anthony Henehan (36 ), from Carrowmurragh, Kiltoom, Co Roscommon who was in court this week (May 28 ) after gardaí discovered cannabis herb with an estimated street value of €2,000 at his home on September 25.
Earlier that day they had stopped Henehan in his car near his home and found €5 worth of the drug, and this prompted a search of his home.
Inspector Nicholas Farrell told the court that the gardaí were satisfied the drug was “for his own use to manage pain”.
Defending himself, Henehan explained how he was a qualified stonemason and thatcher, and had recently completed a church wall as part of a LEADER scheme.
The judge asked him about the thatching, but was told he was only working in stone.
“Are you in the Yellow Pages?” asked the judge, and when Henehan said he wasn’t, the judge retorted: “Well, that’d be a good start for it”.
He then asked the defendant how he afforded €2,000 worth of cannabis, and was told that he sold his car for €800, which was what he paid for the drug.
He explained how he had been using cannabis “on and off” for eight years, depending on the pain from a cruciate knee injury.
“It doesn’t take away the pain, but takes me away from it...I can disassociate,” said Henehan.
Then Judge Hughes asked the defendant: “Where would I buy €800 worth of cannabis this morning?”
“You’d have to look it up. I got a number from a man, and I had to meet a man in a car park in Golden Island,” said Henehan.
“What? Oh, I thought you said ‘on a cold night’. The cannabis is already affecting your voice,” observed the judge.
“Tell me, how did you know it was cannabis, and not dried nettles, or something. Sure, he might have just topped it off with cannabis or dogs’ urine,” quipped the judge.
Inspector Farrell explained how Henehan had 12 previous convictions, but only one for simple possession in 2007.
Pointing out that there’s no point even looking for a custodial sentence for possession of cannabis until after a third conviction, Judge Hughes chose instead to fine Henehan €500.
He paid €200 into the court, and offered to comply with the balance by June 11.
The judge suggested giving the money to the Open Door project because of its role in addiction support.
“They don’t seem to have much success with drug addicts, but they’ll give someone a meal,” he pointed out.