Man who held drugs to pay off drug debt given suspended sentence

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By Claire Henry

A Dublin man who told gardaí he was forced to hold a large quantity of drugs to pay off a drug bill has been given a three and a half year suspended sentence.

Jonathan Kearns (24) of Russell Crescent, Tallaght pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possession of cannabis for sale or supply at his home on March 13, 2020.

Detective Garda David Jennings told Michael Hourigan BL, prosecuting, that on the 13 March 2020, he obtained a search warrant for Russell Crescent.

He said when gardaí when to the house to execute the warrant the partner of the defendant let them in.

During the search gardaí found cannabis in a Tesco shopping bag in the hot press of the home. A weighing scales was also seized.

The garda said when the drugs were shown to the partner of the accused she was shocked.

The accused was not present in the home at the time of the search but two months later he presented himself to Tallaght garda station.

He was arrested and he told gardaí that the drugs found were his but said he was forced to hold them to pay off his drug debt.

The court heard that a total of 437 grams of cannabis with a value of €8,754 were found at the house and Kearns was shocked to hear of the high value of the drugs.

The court heard that he has not come to the attention of the gardaí since his arrest and that he is also the father of two young children, one of which has a severe illness.

Sarah Jane O’Callaghan BL for Kearns outlined to the court that her client was easy to deal with throughout the process.

She said her client had a difficult childhood with both parents being addicted to heroin and told the court that his mother gave him methadone as a baby.

The court heard that the accused had been involved with child services since he was born and has lived in many care homes and foster homes.

He was cared for by his aunt for many years, and when he was 16 years of age, she passed away. It was at this time that Kearns began to misuse cocaine, counsel said.

Kearns has now been drug-free for several years and undergoes regular urine analysis. He is a very talented footballer and trains twice weekly and goes to the gym, both of which help with his mental health.

Judge Pauline Codd outlined that the value of the drugs was in the mid to upper range of the offence with a headline sentence of four years.

Judge Codd considered the mitigating factors such as the accused’s addictions, his difficult background, and that he was addressing his addiction with evidence of clear urine analysis reports.

She imposed a three and a half year sentence which she suspended in full for three years on condition that Kearns remains under the supervision of the probation services for two years and remains drug-free while providing urine analysis if directed by the probation services.

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