Love/Hate actor avoids jail for drug possession

Suspended sentence: Leroy Harris
Suspended sentence: Leroy Harris

A Love/Hate actor, who was given an “ultimatum” and pressured into storing €2,500 worth of cannabis to repay a drug-debt, has been spared jail.

Leroy Harris (21) was given a six-month suspended sentence by Judge Anthony Halpin at Dublin District Court today.

Harris, who had a recurring role in the hit RTE crime drama, pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of cannabis at an address on Rutland Street, in Dublin 1, on October 8, 2012, and having the drug for the purpose of sale or supply on the same date.

Judge Halpin had sought a probation report on his suitability for community service in lieu of a six-month term.

Defence solicitor Cahir O'Higgins asked Judge Halpin to note that the pre-sentence report on Harris detailed some “delicate matters” which he asked not to be read out in court.

Mr O'Higgins also argued that in similar cases in the past where the court had been minded to consider an alternative to custody,  suspended sentences had been imposed with a condition that the defendant must be of good conduct.

Judge Halpin had already said he accepted Harris “yielded to pressure placed on him because of a particular debt that was capitalised upon by these people”. “It is amazing the stranglehold these pushers have over people over money and it does not help these people kick the habit,” he had also said.

He imposed a six-month sentence but suspended it on condition Harris, who has a prior conviction for drug possession, keeps the the peace and does not re-offend within the next 12 months.

He had heard that Harris “was holding the drugs on behalf of a third party”.

The actor's  lawyers had explained to the court that he had built up a cannabis debt worth about €1,000 and this happened when Harris was 18-years-old.

Harris had been smoking cannabis recreationally during his teenage years but as a result of the debt “he was given an ultimatum” and “he had to hold the drugs or he would face the consequences, he took it on himself to comply”.

The court was asked to note that Harris had acted in an RTE drama but does not have consistent work. Harris no longer abuses drugs, has “wised up” and hissupportive family want to make sure he will not get into trouble again, the court had been told in pleas for leniency.

The young actor, who has an address at from Mariner's Port, Dublin 1, played the character Glen in the hit RTE drama Love/Hate.

One of his scenes was at the centre of a controversy for showing his on-screen character filming a friend firing shots from an automatic weapon and killing a cat.

In an earlier case, last year, Harris was ordered to carry out 150 hours of community service in lieu of a six-month sentence for another cannabis possession offence.