Man avoids jail after storing €35k worth of cannabis in suitcase

By Fiona Ferguson and Sonya McLean.

A young man has avoided a jail term for storing €35,000 worth of cannabis in a suitcase because he owed “too much money” in a drug debt, reports Fiona Ferguson and Sonya McLean.

Jordan Ward (23) 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.

Dublin Criminal Courts of Justice 2 October 2016

Dublin Circuit Criminal court

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

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

Judge Pauline Codd had adjourned the case having heard the evidence last June and ordered a probation report to give Ward a chance to see if he can stay off drugs.

On Tuesday, Judge Pauline Codd sentenced Ward to four years in prison which she suspended in full on strict conditions including that he remains under supervision of the Probation Service for two years.

The judge commended the gardai for their work in detecting the crime and accepted evidence that Ward was “low down the chain” and had not “profited from the haul”.

Judge Codd said, however, that “the court is mindful of the social harm and misery caused by the drug industry, the impact of addiction on addicts’ lives and that of their families” and the affect it has on garda resources.

She accepted evidence that Ward was “effectively a drug mule” and that the probation report before the court indicates that he has since shown insight into his offending behaviour and exhibited victim awareness.

Judge Codd said it would be “unjust” to impose the presumptive mandatory minimum in the case and said “it is in society’s interest” that people such as Ward are given the opportunity to rehabilitation.

“He will have a substantial threat hanging over him if he doesn’t take this opportunity,” Judge Codd said, advising that if Ward breaks the terms of the suspension of the sentence he will be jailed for four years.

Detective Garda Robert Whitty told Fiona McGowan BL, prosecuting, at the sentence hearing last June, 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 Giollaíosa Ó 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.

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