“I TAKE the view that without drug dealers there would be no addicts”.
So declared Judge Gerard Griffen at the recent Circuit Court, when he affirmed a District Court order sentencing a Portlaoise man to ten months in prison after the man was caught trying to hide heroin in his rectum during a garda search.
Appearing before last week’s court was John Dunne (35), who was appealing the ten month-sentence he received for the possession of drugs at Portlaoise Garda Station on May 22 last year.
Sgt James Phelan gave evidence that Dunne was arrested for driving without insurance on that date and was brought to the garda station. When gardaí went to search him he was observed taking a large bag of heroin from his sock and placing it in his rectum, thereby obstructing the search. The total value of the drug was €260. Dunne was sentenced at the District Court in Portlaoise on October 25.
Dunne was also previously convicted at the District Court of driving with no licence or insurance on February 22. Sgt Phelan told Judge Gerard Griffen that Dunne had been stopped as he was driving erratically and the gardaí suspected he was under the influence of an intoxicant. He was disqualified from driving for six years.
There was a further conviction for the possession of drugs for sale or supply, at Old Mill, Portlaoise, on September 7. Sgt Phelan said Dunne was detected with two lumps of cannabis resin, valued at €40, which he admitted having for the purpose of sale.
In total, the court heard that Dunne has 41 previous convictions, which includes 13 for the possession of drugs and eight for supply.
Defence, Mr Niall Flynn said Dunne had been selling drugs to feed his own habit and it had not been “a lucrative enterprise” he was involved in. Mr Flynn acknowledged his client’s “horrendous” criminal record, however he said that a substantial amount if not all of the offences related to Dunne’s drug problems. Mr Flynn said that Dunne has been off heroin for one month and has “taken the decision to man up and face reality”.
Dunne’s key worker from the Merchants Quay drug treatment centre, Ms Garrett, took the witness box to say that she believed Dunne was really trying to get his life together.
State solicitor, Mr Donal Dunne asked Ms Garrett if she could say whether or not Dunne had stopped using drugs, or stopped having anything to do with them.
“I can’t answer that,” replied Ms Garrett.
Mr Dunne told Judge Griffen that the gardaí do not believe Dunne no longer has anything to do with drugs. Ms Garrett informed the judge that she had known Dunne for six months and had no knowledge of his previous record.
“What’s your feeling about dealers?” asked Judge Griffen.
“Do I have to answer that?” replied Ms Garrett.
“Yes, you do,” said the judge. “Do you accept that without dealers there would be no addicts?”
“No, I do not,” said the Merchants Quay worker.
After hearing the case, Judge Griffen ruled that he did not believe Dunne’s claim that he had only been dealing drugs to fund his own habit. The judge noted that Dunne had received three prison sentences for drug dealing in the past, very substantial sentences which he said indicated substantial amounts of drugs.
”I take the view that without drug dealers there would be no addicts,” said the judge.
Judge Griffen affirmed the original prison sentence of ten months.