Cork drug dealer spared jail because of impact of coronavirus on court sittings

Cork drug dealer spared jail because of impact of coronavirus on court sittings

THE dark cloud of coronavirus restrictions in Ireland had a silver lining today for a man facing sentencing on three counts of dealing drugs.

Ben Gordon was caught with cannabis resin, cannabis herb and ecstasy tablets following his arrest at Union Quay, Cork, last year.

The 20-year-old pleaded guilty today to having all three drugs for the purpose of sale or supply.

Inspector Gary McPolin said the value of the herb seized from Gordon was €600 while the street value of the MDMA, better known as ecstasy, was €300, while the cannabis resin was worth €200.

Eddie Burke, solicitor, said he would never forget the call he got from the accused from the Bridewell garda station on February 20 2019.

Mr Burke said it was a case of “verbal diarrhoea” whereby the young man was making all kinds of admissions about supplying drugs to his friends and various difficulties, that he was experiencing in his life at the time and that he was “all over the place.”

The solicitor said the young man got a very bad fright to be searched, arrested and charged on the occasion.

Ben Gordon came to Cork District Court today pleading guilty to having each of the three drugs for his own use and having them for sale or supply.

Judge Con O’Leary struck out the simple possession charges but imposed suspended sentences on the accused man of three, four and five months, respectively on the charges of having MDMA, cannabis resin and herb, for the purpose of sale or supply.

Judge O’Leary told the young man that it was due to the particular circumstances of the times that Gordon was not going to jail today.

At the conclusion of the case the judge turned to Gordon directly and asked, “Do you know why you are not going to prison?” 

The defendant replied, “Because I have distanced myself from this.” 

Judge O’Leary corrected him and said, “No, you are not going to prison because the courts lists are under severe pressure because of the courts being closed for a long time due to the virus.” 

For most of the time since mid-March Cork District Court has had been operating with one court rather than two.

While Judge O’Leary let the defendant know that this had effectively kept him out of jail today he was warned that he would not be so lucky on the next occasion, if there was another offence.

“If you come up again with three suspended sentences on your record it is very hard to see you not going to prison,” Judge O’Leary said.

Matters came to the attention of gardaí on the afternoon of February 20, 2019, at Union Quay, Cork, when the accused was observed by gardaí in a suspected drugs transaction.

He was searched there and more thoroughly at the Bridewell. 

A warrant was issued as a consequence to search his home at Ferney Grove, Mahon, Cork. 

He is now living at rented accommodation, his solicitor said.

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