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Teens used vacant Westport apartment to deal cannabis

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Trio with drug stash of over €6k found playing computer games

A DISTRICT court judge has questioned how young people continue to get involved in drugs despite all the information about the harm it brings.
Judge Fiona Lydon made the comments during a court hearing in Castlebar District Court where three teenagers each pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of drugs for sale and supply and two counts of possession.
The youths, two of whom are now aged 18 and the other is 17, were charged with the offences after they were caught with cannabis herb and cannabis jelly worth a total of €6,545 in an apartment in Westport on April 4, 2021.

‘Chill-out house’
The youths, who cannot be identified due to reporting restrictions, had access to the vacant apartment and used it as a ‘chill-out house’ where they smoked cannabis and played computer games.
Garda Paul Harte told Judge Lydon that the search also uncovered €610 in cash, which the three youths admitted was from the proceeds of selling cannabis.
Garda Harte described the operation used by the youths to sell the drugs as amateurish, saying it did not take long before they came on the Garda radar. He said he did not believe the youths understood the seriousness of what they were doing, adding that he fears they could have got into serious trouble if they had not been caught.
Judge Lydon questioned why young people were getting involved in drugs when there are so many deaths associated with drugs. “With the amount of information this age group has it is hard to understand how youth get involved in dealing drugs,” she commented.
Garda Harte, a member of the Mayo Divisional Drug Taskforce, added drug use among young people is becoming more common, despite the consequences.
Garda Harte explained that when they arrived at the Westport premises with the search warrant, the three men were playing computer games. They found 252 grammes of cannabis herb worth €5,040 and a box containing 301 cannabis jellies worth €1,505.
The three youths all admitted they were equal partners in the operation and that they had bought 500 grammes of cannabis herb. They had distributed about half of it before they were apprehended but had not yet received payment.

Chastening experience
Garda Harte said they owed €2,500 to their supplier and this was later paid to him. He said he had an idea who the supplier is but this information was not given by the defendants.
He said that the youths used a large amount of cannabis themselves before buying a larger amount of cannabis themselves to sell for a profit.
The case had initially been referred to the Juvenile Liaison Officer (JLO) but was not deemed suitable and instead the file was forwarded to the DPP, who directed that they be charged.
Garda Harte told Mr Thomas Walsh, solicitor for the three youths, that when questioned the youths were not fully aware of the consequences of their actions. They did not know that the charge of possession of sale and supply can carry a life sentence. He said that it had been a chastening experience for them.
Garda Harte said that he has met the youths since the incident, that none of them have been suspected of being involved in drugs in the intervening period, and all are working and have the support of their parents. They have no previous convictions and have not come to any Garda attention since.
Judge Lydon accepted that despite the high quantity of drugs there was a level of immaturity involved on the three youths’ part, and she accepted jurisdiction.
Mr Walsh said his clients were all pleading guilty to the charges and asked for the preparation of a probation report before sentencing.
Judge Lydon agreed to adjourn sentencing until August 10 for a pre-sanction report, but warned that any juveniles who decide to deal in drugs will face consequences.

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