Easier to get drugs in jails than outside says Kildare prisoner

Judge questions jail security

By Leinster Leader Reporter

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Easier to get drugs in jails than outside says Kildare prisoner

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A 26 year-old man jailed for attempted burglary in Athy has told Naas District Court that he can get drugs a short walk from his prison cell.

Noel Kelly, 11 Canal Walk, Athy, was jailed for ten months, following what were aggravating features.

He was convicted of trespass with an intent to steal from 12 Cardington Court in Athy on October 24.

A day later, October 25, at Naas District Court, Mr Kelly pleaded guilty.

Represented by solicitor, Jacqueline McManus and barrister, Richard Wixted, BL, Mr Kelly pleaded to the court to help him with his heroin problem.

The court was told that the owner of the Athy house came home at 6.20pm and spotted a figure in an upstairs room.

Mr Kelly, who had 19 previous convictions fled, but was caught.

The crime was committed while he was on bail.

Mr Wixted said Mr Kelly was a heroin addict, who had tried detox three times.

His convictions were all aimed at feeding his drug habit.

He had been helped in the past, but fell back into the illegal drug habit, which he started as a juvenile, aged sixteen.

Addressing the court, Mr Kelly said: “I know I am going to jail but it is not doing me any good. I am trying to get back into treatment.”

The addict said he could not handle withdrawal from drugs.

“Prison is not going to do me any good and I would ask for a bit of leniency today,” he said.

Judge Zaidan said he had tried to help Mr Kelly in the past.

Mr Kelly continued: “I am really struggling with it. I am angry at myself. I am sweating under the arms. There are pains in my legs. I am emotional and cold,” he told the court.

He went on to describe how he gets heroin in jail.

“I would be about five minutes on the landing of the prison, and I will be offered heroin. There is more available in prison than there is on the outside,” he said.

Judge Zaidan said he accepted Mr Kelly was different when he was not on drugs. But he had not give the victim of the attempted burglary a chance.

The judge said there is very little treatment in jail.

“There should be a specialised setting for drugs and alcohol treatment which is away from the mainstream prison. It is a damning indictment on the system,” said Judge Zaidan.

Mr Kelly said when he went back to Athy his addiction “spiralled out of control.”

Judge Zaidan said it was “disheartening to hear drugs could be got on the landing of the prison.”

Mr Kelly asked: “What do I do?”

Judge Zaidan said he would strongly recommend treatment for Mr Kelly in the medical wing in  jail.

Mr Kelly then said there was no medical wing in jail.

The court was then told that there was a service in that prison and that if Mr Kelly worked with the team they would try and help him.

“If he is determined there is treatment,” the judge was told.

Mr Wixted said there were two addiction counsellors for every 850 prisoners.

Judge Zaidan said that around half of prisoners had addiction problems.

Mr Kelly asked if he could get treatment at Cuan Mhuire.

Regarding drugs being available in jail, Judge Zaidan asked rhetorically: “How do people get them through security.”

He said there were aggravating features to Mr Kelly’s case and jailed him for ten months.