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Judge states there will be no strike out for first time drug offenders

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Judge states there will be no strike out for first time drug offenders

Judge Catherine Staines

Judge Catherine Staines told Portlaoise court on Thursday she would, in the future, be no longer prepared to strike out cases for possession of drugs in cases of first time offenders.

She stated she would no longer apply Section 1(1) of the Probation Act in these circumstances.

She made her comments in the case of Robert Manzanilla (21) of 69 Marina Village, Malahide who faced a number of drugs charges relating to August 29, 2019.

He came before the court charged with possession of cannabis, MDMA, cocaine and ketamine, and possession for sale or supply of ketamine, cannabis, MDMA, and cocaine.

He pleaded guilty to the charges.

Garda Murphy told the court that the charges related to the Electric Picnic in 2019. The total amount of the drugs was €1,700.

Defending Solicitor Barry Fitzgerald said that his client was bringing in the drugs for his friends and was distributing to them. There was no gain to him financially.

He lives with his mother. When his father died it had triggered a sea change in him.

He had €500 in court.

Judge Staines asked Mr Manzanilla did he know where cocaine originated from.

“Societies are destroyed by these drug cartels. They are being sold by organised crime gangs in Ireland. By buying these drugs you become part of that,” she said.

She noted that he had no previous convictions and she also noted a letter from his mother.

She told solicitors and counsel to take note that she was no longer prepared in the future to automatically strike out cases for possession and apply Section 1(1) of the Probation Act in these type of cases.

“It has got too serious,” she stated.

She applied the Section 1 (1) of the Probation Act in this case telling Mr Manzanilla that it was not a recorded conviction but if he did come before the courts again it would register.

She also afforded Russell Hickey of Deerpark, Shillelagh, Wicklow a chance when he appeared charged with possession of cocaine on September 1, 2019 at the Electric Picnic. The quantity involved was €70.

“People have to take it more seriously now,” she reiterated to Counsel, Suzanne Dooner.