Judge Seamus Hughes.
Longford town is becoming so overrun with drugs society has “become tolerant of it,” local District Court Judge Seamus Hughes has claimed.
The District Number nine judge was speaking after it emerged a young female defendant who had been due to appear for him had died from an apparent heroin overdose.
It came barely two weeks after another female died from a similar episode.
Addressing the court upon learning of the news last Tuesday, Judge Hughes said he was becoming more and more concerned about the availability of drugs in Longford town.
“I am not feeling too well today but anyone who comes before me on a Section 15 drugs charge will be going to prison for a very long time,” he said.
“This area is swamped with drugs and it has become so acceptable that we have become tolerant of it.”
The woman in question who died from the alleged overdose had been due to appear before him charged with a string of theft and shoplifting charges.
He said the money generated from drug dealing was only serving to “fill the pockets” of hardened criminals, something he said he was not prepared to stand for.
“There is a tolerance that seems to be coming up in every level of society and I know the Gardaí are doing their best but these are two females to have died from drug overdoses,” he said.
Judge Hughes said he appreciated the fact his tenure on the bench was something which would not last forever.
But he warned anyone convicted of drug dealing in Longford would be facing a stretch of at least 12 months behind bars as a result.
Under the Misuse of Drugs Act, it is an offence for anyone found to be in possession of controlled drugs for the purposes of sale and supply.
Upon summary conviction, which is dealt with by a judge without a jury at District Court level, those found guilty of such offences can face a hefty fine or prison sentence not exceeding 12 months.
In certain circumstances, a court can decide to issue both penalties, sanctions Judge Hughes admitted he would have little hesitation in rubber-stamping from now on.
“I will take each case on its merits but if there is a conviction I will be sentencing these people to 12 months in prison and that will happen,” he said.