No jail for man caught dealing heroin

No jail for man caught dealing heroin

A man who escaped to America after he was caught dealing heroin in 2010 has avoided jail after a judge ordered him to do community service work.

Stephen Winders (41) was caught with 19 cannabis plants and nearly €1,700 worth of heroin which he was selling to feed his own drug habit. He fled to America while on bail and got clean of drugs while there with the help of an intensive treatment programme.

The Dubliner was arrested last year (2016) when he went to obtain garda clearance in order to register a homelessness charity.

Winders of Kilshane Drive, Finglas pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possession of cannabis and heroin for sale or supply at his then home in Ballymount, Dublin on October 14, 2010.

Defence counsel Pieter Le Vert BL said he returned to Ireland last year (2016) after getting clean of drugs so he could help others get clean. He decided to set up a charity called Progress Homelessness to address problems of addiction and homelessness, counsel said.

When he went to a garda station to obtain clearance to register the charity gardaí discovered the outstanding warrants and arrested him.

“He could hardly have thought the State would turn a blind eye to almost €10,000 worth of drugs,” Judge Catherine Murphy commented.

Mr Le Vert said Winders had contacted his solicitor prior to returning to Ireland and was told that gardaí said there were no outstanding warrants.

Progress Homelessness had now been established and was in the fundraising stage, counsel said. It had the support of the HSE and the church had donated a house for use as a residential care premises.

Judge Murphy said that these were serious offences for which Winders had evaded arrest for years. But she said he appeared now to be dealing with his drug problems.

She suspended a sentence of two years for three years on condition he engaged with the Probation Services for 18 months. She also ordered him to carry out 240 hours of community service.

Garda John Thompson said the drugs were found after gardaí obtained a search warrant and broke down Winders' door.

They found 19 cannabis plants, worth a total of €7600 at €400 a plant. They also found a plastic bag of heroin worth €1,668.

Winders claimed the drugs were for his personal use and that he didn't think they were worth so much. He was released on bail and travelled to America soon after. While in the US he worked as a television camera man.

Prosecuting counsel Seamus Clarke BL said Winders has ten previous convictions including car theft and threatening behaviour. He said he has not come to garda attention since 2010.

Last December Judge Murphy adjourned the case and indicated she would consider a suspended sentence if there was an unblemished probation services report in court including clean drug tests.