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25 May 2022

Kildare judge says he will strike out drug cases if test delays continue

Criticism

Kildare judge says he will strike out drug cases if test delays continue

Naas Courthouse

A judge has warned he will start to strike out  cases of illegal drug possession if the gardaí continue to seek adjournments.

Numerous cases before Naas District Court have not been dealt with and repeatedly adjourned in the absence of a certificate of analysis indicating the value and quantity of illegal drugs in each case.

This certificate comes from Forensic Science Ireland, which is staffed by scientists and analysts who examine  samples submitted from crime scenes and provide expert evidence in criminal trials. FSI also examines on items that possibly come into contact with drugs such  weighing scales, knives and equipment from clandestine labs to determine if traces of a controlled substance are present.

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Having adjourned a number of cases at the court sitting on February 2, Judge Zaidan said there has to be a meaningful solution to the delay in providing the certs “or I’ll have to start striking them out.”

Sgt Jim Kelly acknowledged the delays but said that meetings have taken place with the Department of Justice in an effort to find a solution, possibly through prioritising cases. He said a system has been up which will allow the gardaí to provide a list of priority cases.

In one case where the value of the drugs was estimated at €7,000, there was an application for the issue to be struck out or marker peremptory for the next date, meaning it must proceed on that date.

However Judge Zaidan declined to strike the matter out.

“I suspect this is due to a lack of resources but it’s  not satisfactory. I won’t strike it out now but there will come a time when I will have to draw the line somewhere.”

Solicitor Tim Kennelly said that one defendant had complained of having to turn up in court on a number of occasions and the case has yet to go ahead.

He was referring to delays in the system, largely caused by the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions, which limited the amount of people allowed into the courtroom and led to many adjournments.

One of his clients, who is facing allegations of assault, robbery, and the production ofan article, has been in custody for over four months.


Judge Zaidan replied: “That's the state we're in. We’re supposed to be a first world country. There are people on hospital waiting lists for three years to have an operation and that is more important.”

Judge Zaidan likened the delays within the District Court system in County Kildare to having just one medical doctor for the whole county.

“Don’t get me started on the politicians,” he added.

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