A middle-aged man charged with possession with intent to supply over €2,000 worth of heroin had his excuses given short shrift in the District Court, but had his sentencing postponed until the new year to see if the Welfare and Probation Service can come up with something other than a jail sentence.
Raymond Murphy (51 ) of St Anne’s Terrace, Athlone was in court to plead guilty to the charge after he was stopped on Connacht Street on August 20, 2009 at 3.20am with €2,100 worth of heroin on his person. Inspector Nicholas Farrell told the court that though Murphy had 27 previous convictions, the most recent was in 2007, and he had none for drug-related offences.
Murphy’s solicitor, Mr Paul Connellan, told the court how his client had become increasingly involved in his own addiction over the last three years.
“He says it started in Castlerea [prison],” said Mr Connellan.
“If your client has an addiction, he shouldn’t try to blame others,” said Judge Patrick Clyne.
“This is a Section 15 [Misuse of Drugs Act - possession with intent to supply] before me. I don’t care what people put up their nose or in their arm, but I do care when they give it to somebody else,” he continued.
In mitigation for his client, Mr Connellan pointed out how Murphy had been attending the Open Door project for drug users and had been referred by the HSE for community counselling.
“Again, you’re missing the point. He pleaded guilty to Section 15, leading others down that path. That’s not fair,” said the judge.
“He accepts he is facing a custodial sentence,” said Mr Connellan.
“Look, he’s before the court, he’s not the victim. The people he supplies are the victims. He goes to the Christian Brothers or the convent gates and gives them God knows what. He had this in his house and it wasn’t to put on the fire, and it wasn’t to put on his steak and kidney pie,” said the judge.
“If he was willing to put that amount [€2,100] into drug awareness for the community, that’d go a long way to keep him out of prison.”.
Mr Connellan explained how his client was unemployed, and only in receipt of €197 in State benefits per week.
“Mr Connellan. He was engaged in private enterprise... Probably the best idea would be a probation report,” concluded the judge, adjourning a decision until January 12.