A JUDGE was so impressed with the recovery of a former heroin addict who had almost doubled in weight since his last appearance, that he suggested he could be an advocate for impressionable aged schoolkids on the perils of addiction.
“I know he’s impressing you, judge because he’s impressing me,” said solicitor Conal Boyce to Judge Desmond Zaidan about his client Jonathan Blanchfield (40) of Hartwell , Kill in Naas District Court tlast week on 10 September.
Mr Blanchfield was pleading guilty to a charge of stealing a bottle of Versace perfume worth €48 from Debenhams of Newbridge over two years ago on 13 September 2018.
After Sergeant Brian Jacob read out the particulars of the crime, and that the defendant had 18 previous convictions – two of which were also for theft – Mr Boyce pointed out: “That is all the bad news, judge”.
“My client is looking particularly well, considering the circumstances,” added the solicitor.
“When did you first take heroin?” asked the judge.
“When I was 13. I hadn’t a clue,” said Mr Blanchfield.
“As you and I both know, judge, the chances of my client making 40 were unlikely,” said Mr Boyce.
The defendant explained how he was on a methadone programme that was very effective in his case.
“The only clean urines I know,” commented the judge, perusing the defendant’s medical files.
“He’s nearly passing [sic] Versace at this stage,” joked Mr Boyce.
“I’m hugely impressed and pleased with Jonathan, and I’ve known him for years,” Mr Boyce continued.
“I didn’t think he’d make 40, he was a shambling wreck,” he added.
“I was eight stone, now I’m 15!” declared the defendant.
“How did you gain all that weight?” asked the judge.
“I stopped taking heroin,” he replied simply.
The judge then enquired if the defendant was in any way violent.
“He’s quite a pleasant fellow,” offered Mr Boyce.
“What would you have done with the perfume?” asked the judge.
“Sold it to fund the habit. I’d a gotta €20 deal of heroin for €60-70 worth of perfume,” explained Blanchfield.
“Who would’ve bought it off you?” asked the judge.
“Bent coppers!” offered a mischievous Mr Boyce, before getting back on message, and telling the court how his client was back living with his parents, and that he was looking for work in the electrical trade.
“I’m back to brightness, my father said,” added Mr Blanchfield.
“Anyway, if I was back on the drugs, I wouldn’t be allowed in his house,” he said.
“It would be worthwhile to have someone like the defendant go to schools and talk to sixth class, or first years. If someone offered those kids drugs after meeting him they wouldn’t go near them,” said the judge.
After stating his last conviction was over seven years ago, Mr Boyce told the court: “He won’t let you down” and the judge agreed, applying the Probation Act in this case – a very rare thing for someone with convictions, but as an acknowledgement of efforts made.