17 Aug 2022

Judge's prison warning on 'par for the course' cocaine use

Judge's prison warning on 'par for the course' cocaine use

A Portarlington man who was before Portlaoise District Court on cannabis and cocaine charges was told he will face jail if he appears on drug supply charges again.

Clifford Nolan (38), 62 St Joseph’s Terrace, Portarlington was charged with possession of cocaine and cannabis, and possession for sale and supply, at that address on October 10 last.

The court heard the amount of cocaine was valued at €260 while the cannabis was valued at €120.

Sergeant JJ Kirby said the defendant made a full admission to gardai and was supplying drugs to his friends. He had three previous convictions under the misuse of drugs act.

Being apprehended by gardai had been a “wake-up call” defence solicitor Josephine Fitzpatrick said, which forced him to deal with the consequences of his actions. “He has written to the gardai to thank them,” Ms Ftizpatrick said. “He is glad that his life has taken a different direction now,” she added.

The defendant is no longer taking drugs. “He is shocked at the position he has put his family in,” Ms Fitzpatrick said.
The defendant has his own carpentry business and is working long hours.  “He is taking this matter extremely seriously,” Ms Fitzpatrick said.

It is “really shocking”, Judge Catherine Staines said, that cocaine appears to be “awash” in society. Cocaine use now seems to be “par for the course,” Judge Staines said. “It seems to be normal to meet to take cocaine”.

“Once you take it, then you want more of it,” Judge Staines warned. “Then you owe money to dealers and you sell it to your friends. It then spirals out of control,” she said.

The issue of cocaine will be taken very seriously, Judge Staines said. Anyone before the courts will be facing a prison sentence, she said.

“He had a habit and let himself down,” Judges Staines said of the defendant. “However, I do believe he has turned his life around and is drug-free,” she said.

A ten months prison sentence was imposed on the defendant, but this was suspended for one year. “If you supply drugs again, you will go to prison,” Judge Staines warned the defendant.

Ms Fitzpatrick said her client had been supplying among a group of friends. “That’s how it starts,” Judge Staines replied.

Sgt Kirby was granted an order for the destruction of the drugs.

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