Man facing prison given chance to see if he can stay off drugs

By Fiona Ferguson

A young man facing a ten years presumptive mandatory sentence after he was caught storing €35,000 cannabis in a suitcase has been given a chance to see if he can stay off drugs.

 Jordan Ward (23) said he was holding the drugs because he owed “too much money” in a drug debt.

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Dublin Circuit Criminal court

 Ward, of Newlands Manor Green, Clondalkin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal court to possession of the cannabis for sale or supply on December 4, 2017.

 Ward, who has 20 previous convictions, faces a presumptive mandatory minimum sentence of ten year imprisonment for this offence under section 15a of the Misuse of Drugs Act.

 

A judge can depart from the mandatory minimum if they find there are exceptional circumstances in a case.

 Detective Garda Robert Whitty told Fiona McGowan BL, prosecuting, that gardai executed a search warrant at the premises and spoke with Ward who was asleep in a downstairs bedroom. When asked if there were any drugs in the house he pointed at a suitcase.

 The suitcase was found to contain cannabis valued at €35,604. Ward accepted responsibility for the drugs. He said he was holding it to deal with a drug debt, telling gardai he owed “too much money”.

 Garda Whitty agreed with  Giollaiosa O Lideadha SC, defending, that Ward fully co-operated from the beginning in relation to his own role but not in relation to the role of others and accepted his life would have been at risk.

 The garda agreed that the drugs were stored at the house as opposed to sold and that Ward was “at the bottom of the ladder”. He agreed Ward appeared to have gone through a “major transformation” and was someone with potential if he received the right supports.

Mr O Lideadha handed in letters from Ward’s sister and mother outlining how much Ward has changed in the past two years and how he assists them with caring for their children.

 Ward wrote a letter of apology to the court saying: “All I want to do is change my life.” He outlined the educational and employment courses he has taken. He told the court he would appreciate it if he was given a chance and wanted to move forward with his life.

Mr O Lideadha handed in a probation report to the court and said Ward was coming to court as someone who has transformed his behaviour and interrupted a cycle of criminal conduct. He said Ward was staying out of trouble, looking for work and helping his family.

He said Ward was not completely free of drugs and currently finds it difficult to motivate himself as he is expecting to get a custodial sentence. He said his client appeared to be self-medicating for anxiety and depression.

Counsel submitted that Ward’s guilty plea and admissions were of assistance and that both the value of the drugs as well as Ward’s role were at the low end of the scale.

He said that should a judge find there were exceptional circumstances then a wholly suspended sentence is up for consideration at the more moderate end of offending.

Mr O’Lideadha said his client realised this was a “big ask” and pointed out the probation report outlined Ward’s regret and insight into his offending, as well as his reduction in drug use and distancing himself from negative peers.

Judge Pauline Codd said she was going to adjourn the case until November 2, to allow Ward the chance to deal with his drug use. She said she was not giving any indications but wanted to see how well he could do to stay off drugs.

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