Judge shocked at Portlaoise heroin problem

THE scourge of heroin in the Portlaoise area was remarked upon by Judge Conal Gibbons last week, with the judge declaring he was shocked at the high level of abuse evident in the county town.

THE scourge of heroin in the Portlaoise area was remarked upon by Judge Conal Gibbons last week, with the judge declaring he was shocked at the high level of abuse evident in the county town.

His remarks came in the case of Philip Brown, of Apt 3, Dublin Rd, Portlaoise, who admitted supplying heroin to his girlfriend at his home on July 5 last year. Inspector Martin Harrington gave evidence that a garda search of the house revealed an eighth of cannabis and a bag of heroin valued at €750. Brown, who has six previous convictions, admitted the drug was for himself and his girlfriend.

“It’s a shocking state of affairs,” said Judge Gibbons. “It’s sad that heroin is such a difficulty in an area like this.”

During a lengthy discourse on the evils of the narcotics trade, the judge said that everyone involved in supply is culpable, from the godfathers down to those at the retail end, and he said Brown was just as guilty to supply to his girlfriend as he would be if he were standing out on the street with a sign saying ‘heroin for sale’.

“It’s a scourge on civilised society,” the judge said. “It’s the sort of thing you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy.”

The judge imposed a sentence of nine months.

At the end of last week’s court, Brown lodged an independent cash surety to appeal the verdict.

The judge’s remarks echoed those of Portlaoise gardai who recently admitted that drugs are continuing to be a major issue. Sergeant Tom Walton who spoke at last week’s Portlaoise Joint Policing committee meeting.

Sgt Walton told the meeting that in the last three months there were a number of seizures including heroin and cannibas herb.

“We seized €25,000 woth of drugs coming in to Portlaoise before Christmas, for the Christmas market. We are not sure if it was for local supply or passing through. Drugs still remain a major problem in the town. Also with the Midlands prison there are a lot of issues with people coming and going”, he said.

From December last year to the end of February there were seven detections for sale or supply of drugs together with 18 offences for possession of drugs for personal use.

The Joint Policing committee meeting heard that gardaí regularly inspect licensed premises in the area and are “generally satisfied with the manner in which the licenced trade is conducted”.