Judge loses patience with drugs offender

A judge raised his voice to threaten a man with jail after he claimed to be drug free, but could provide no documentary evidence of this.

“The fun and games are over. If I don’t get concrete evidence of steps taken [by you] I’m taking the hard road. I first asked for this in July,” thundered Judge Seamus Hughes at Richard O’Neill (26 ), of Beechville, Athlone.

O’Neill was in court for a sixth time since the summer on a raft of drug charges committed in the first half of the year for his latest probation report to be read by the judge.

“Cannabis, diazepam, cocaine? And now he’s supplementing his diet with methadone? Is that the case?” asked the judge after going over the report.

“He has been attending his methadone programme religiously, and he tells me he’s been giving clean urines for three weeks,” said O’Neill’s solicitor, Mr Paul Connellan.

Unable to provide documentary proof of this statement, O’Neill told the judge he couldn’t access these tests from the HSE, and sought a judicial order to release them.

However, when the probation officer contradicted this, and told the judge that every person subject to these tests was fully entitled to access their results, the judge’s patience snapped.

“I’m just repeating the warning of July, Mr O’Neill. If I don’t see any evidence I will be hard enough in January to send you to jail,” thundered the judge.

“Any comments, inspector?” he asked of Inspector Nicholas Farrell acting for the State.

“There’s been no incidents with Mr O’Neill for some time,” he declared. Accepting this, and apologising for raising his voice, Judge Hughes remanded O’Neill on continuing bail until January 22 for test results.


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