A Polish national searched by gardaí in Portarlington who claimed he had pepper spray, an air gun and a baseball bat in his car to protect himself from a gang in Kildare to whom he owed a drug debt has been given community service in lieu of prison.
Before last week’s sitting of the district court in Portlaoise was Konrad Wodzinski (24), Crann Nua, Portarlington, for finalisation of a case which first came before the court in January this year.
In January, Inspector Eamon Curley gave evidence that on May 29, 2017, at 11pm, the gardaí observed a car acting suspiciously at Kilnacourt Wood, Portarlington.
Upon speaking to the driver, Konrad Wodzinski, the gardaí got a smell of cannabis and searched the car. One can of pepper spray was found in the glove box and another can was found in the side door, while a baseball bat was found in the boot of the car and an airsoft gun with 13 steel ball bearings was located on the back seat.
The accused, who had no previous convictions, told gardaí the items were for his own protection.
Defence, Mr Barry Fitzgerald said his client, a Polish national living in Ireland 12 years, had a significant cannabis issue, having started on the drug at the age of 15.
Defence said that this cannabis use brought the accused into company he otherwise would have avoided and he and a friend became entangled with a gang in Kildare, building up a drug debt which led to a threat being over him.
Mr Fitzgerald said that his client had cooperated with the gardaí and would benefit from services provided by the court. There may be other matters coming down the line, said defence, but the accused would like an opportunity to prove himself.
Judge Catherine Staines remarked that having such items suggested an intention to use them at some point and said she had a prison sentence in mind.
However, she put the matter back for a probation report and community service report, adjourning the case to March 15 next.
When the case returned to court last week, the accused was found suitable for community service. In that event, Judge Flann Brennan imposed 80 hours’ community service in lieu of two months in prison.