A Portlaoise man who claimed he was being forced to sell drugs to clear a debt has been given community service in lieu of prison after gardaí found €1,500 of cannabis stashed at his home.
At last week’s sitting of Portlaoise District Court, John Paul Delaney, 70 De Vesci Court, Portlaoise, was charged with drug possession, and possession for sale or supply.
Inspector Eamon Curley gave evidence that on August 19 this year, the gardaí conducted a drug search of the accused’s house and found cannabis herb valued at €1,500 hidden in the dishwasher.
The accused was arrested and cooperated with the gardaí, said Insp Curley.
Delaney had 11 previous convictions, but none for drugs. His most recent was for a public order offence in June of this year.
Defence, Mr Philip Meagher said his client, a father of two, had no connection with the drugs trade until approximately eight or nine months ago, when he lost his brother under tragic circumstances.
He had never used drugs and never sold drugs, said defence, but after the loss of his brother he began drinking and got into difficulty with a loan which had built up with a local individual involved in the drug trade.
Mr Meagher went on to say that Delaney was told to sell drugs to clear the debt and initially refused, but then he received a severe beating some four weeks before the incident and threats were made involving his partner, so he foolishly gave in for his own safety and the safety of his family.
In relation to the drugs found at his home, Mr Meagher said the cannabis had been broken up for sale but Delaney had not actually sold any.
Judge Catherine Staines imposed 200 hours’ community service in lieu of ten months in prison.
The judge warned the accused that if he came before the court again he would go to prison, and told him that if he was being threatened by someone he should go to the gardaí.