Man caught with €33k of cannabis avoids jail after judge says young people ‘can be stupid’

Sean Fitzgerald (22) was seen as a “soft touch” as he had issues with drugs and owed a small drug debt of €400, the court heard.

Cannabis. Stock image© Getty Images/iStockphoto

Sunday World

An apprentice who had over €33,000 of cannabis in his possession has been handed a suspended prison sentence.

Sean Fitzgerald (22) of Marwood Crescent, Ballymun, pleaded guilty to possession of cannabis for sale or supply on December 3, 2021, at the same address.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard yesterday that gardai carried out a search of the property on the day in question and found 1.8kg of cannabis, with a value of just over €33,000.

Fitzgerald took ownership of the drugs. The defendant has no previous convictions and has not come to garda attention since this incident.

The investigating garda agreed with Padraig Dwyer SC, defending, that his client was cooperative and took responsibility for the drugs.

The garda accepted that Fitzgerald told them he had only been holding the cannabis for a few hours before gardaí searched the property.

The garda also agreed with Mr Dwyer that his client was unlikely to re-offend in the future, and no evidence of drug dealing was found at the property.

Mr Dwyer said his client only had possession of the drugs for a limited period of time.

Fitzgerald was seen as a “soft touch” as he had issues with drugs and owed a small drug debt of €400, he said.

Defence counsel said his client had led a productive life and works as an apprentice.

He said Fitzgerald has taken steps to deal with his drug issues, and a letter from the Star project was handed into the court.

Mr Dwyer asked Judge Martin Nolan to consider imposing a suspended prison sentence due to Fitzgerald's young age at the time of the offence, work history, and low risk of re-offending.

Judge Nolan said the higher courts have indicated that there must be exceptional factors for the circuit court to impose a suspended prison sentence in cases of this type.

Judge Nolan noted there was “excellent mitigation” in this case and said he would impose a three-year prison sentence, suspended in full.

He said he took into consideration the defendant's lack of previous convictions and good work history.

He accepted that the defendant is unlikely to re-offend in the future.

Judge Nolan said Fitzgerald has a low level of culpability as he was holding the drugs, which he had no interest in, for another party for a short period of time.

He also noted that the amount of drugs involved was serious but on the lower end of the scale.

Judge Nolan also noted Fitzgerald's age at the time and said, “the court recognises young people can be stupid”.

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