A judge has stated that "the curse of drug addiction" in this country is just as serious as the Covid 19 pandemic - apart from the death rate brought on by Covid 19.
At Ennis Circuit Court today, Judge Gerald Keys made his comment before sentencing former cocaine drug user, Luke Shannon, 24, of St Senan’s Terrace, Kilrush for the robbery of €320 and possession of cocaine on July 30, 2018.
Judge Keys imposed a three-year jail term and suspended the final 18 months of the prison term.
Judge Keys told Mr Shannon: “You are 24 now, but if you go back to drug taking, you won’t reach 30, you won’t be alive - that is the consequences of drug addiction.
“The curse of drug addiction in this country to me is just as serious as the Covid-19 pandemic - other than there have not been the same number of fatalities."
Judge Keys stated that there are “literally the same number of people going around totally addicted to drugs” and that he has “a great belief in rehabilitation - more so than punishment”.
“Should they all be put into prison and you throw away the key - or you treat them? It is one or the other and that has been my goal since coming on the bench in Ennis.”
A former member of the long-running Mahon planning tribunal, Judge Keys is due to retire from the bench next month.
Mr Shannon told the court that he passed up the opportunity to deal with his drug use through the Probation Service while out on bail and awaiting sentence “because I didn’t want to miss the birth of my daughter”.
Judge Keys told Mr Shannon "your future is in your hands”.