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Drug user who has ‘exhausted all sentencing options’ told next stop is prison

He had bags of paracetamol mixed with cocaine and cannabis.

Armagh Courthouse

A man who breached a suspended sentence after just six months has been told that if he continues to use drugs his “next stop is prison”.

A district judge told the 31-year-old that he had “exhausted all of the sentencing options available to the court” and all that was left was immediate custody.

Paddy Ward, of Churchview, Charlemont pleaded guilty to possession of Class A and Class B drugs at Armagh Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday.

Court heard that on January 9, at 10.35am, police arrived at the defendant’s home to conduct a search.

Ward indicated to officers that both Class A and Class B drugs were present at the address.

He proffered these drugs over to police and was cautioned before being arrested.

During interview, the defendant stated that he had “difficulties with drugs”.

Ward identified two bags of white powder as paracetamol mixed with cocaine and another bag as cannabis.

Defence barrister Patrick Taggart stated: “The primary concern here is the Class A. Although it is a small amount this is a new offence for Mr Ward.

“He was candid to police – he told them where the drugs were.”

He added: “Credit must be given to the defendant’s wife who had told him the relationship is over if his drug use continues.”

Mr Taggart informed court that Ward was the full-time carer of his wife and their two children.

He said defendant’s drug use was a “way of relieving stress” although Ward knew this was “unacceptable”.

Court heard Ward was currently subject to a suspended sentence which had been put in place for possession of a Class B drug.

Mr Taggart stated: “Suspended sentences are there for a reason. I ask that the court gives Mr Ward one last chance.”

District Judge Peter King commented: “The problem is he was given a suspended sentence in June 2018. We are dealing with offences committed in January 2019.

“He was sentenced to three months suspended for two years in June, less than six months later he has reoffended and is now in possession of Class A.”

Ward was sentenced to a combination order consisting of 12 months of probation and 90 hours of community service for these offences.

District Judge King ordered that the length of the suspended sentence handed down in June of last year be extended to run for three years from Tuesday’s court sitting.

He told Ward: “You have exhausted all of the sentencing options available to the court. If you continue to use drugs your next stop is prison.”

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