JUDGE Desmond Zaiden has warned that any further students from Maynooth University who are up before him on drugs charges will face ‘the realistic possibility of a jail sentence.
“I have a mindset to send him to jail, send a message to all the other students,” said Judge Desmond Zaida to a 21-year-old student with an address in the Student Village in the University.
“Any more students from Maynooth up before me on drug charges, there is a very realistic possibility from now on you will face a jail sentence,” he added.
The student was appearing in Naas District Court for sentencing on 16 June following a guilty plea to a possession with intent to supply charge after he was found with €800 worth of cannabis at his student apartment on 23 March, 2021.
However, the judge was just as critical of the university for allowing such behaviour on its campus.
“The head of the college?” he asked.
“They have been told about it,” said Sergeant Brian Jacob.
“I can tell you, judge, this is endemic across all universities,” he offered.
“What is the college doing internally to limit the use of drugs on campus?” asked the judge.
“I don’t know, but I’ll find out,” said the sergeant.
“Passing the buck to the courts,” suggested the judge.
“Maynooth should have zero tolerance, they shouldn’t just pass it on to the Guards. At least make an effort,” he said.
“They may claim zero tolerance, but where’s the substance behind that?
“Oh, I’m sure they have a policy. We’re very good at putting out statements,” he said.
David Powderley, defending solicitor, described his client – as “a very foolish man,” but who is now drug-free, and has two clean urinalysis tests to prove this.
He sought a probation report for his client but the judge denied this.
He again warned him about the likelihood of a sentence, but said: “I haven’t done that yet, because that would be ‘adios’ to your degree, and ‘adios’ to your life”.
Mr Powderley then suggested his client could come up with “a gesture” to the court – shorthand for a donation to the court’s Poor Box – “to allow him a conviction-free status”.
“He’s just a foot soldier while the Godfather is still out there,” said the judge.
“Who are you buying from? But he won’t say, because he’s afraid of the negative consequences,” said the judge.
He then laid out the warning to all other Maynooth students, before reluctantly acceding to Mr Powderley’s suggestion of a donation of 3,000 in exchange for the benefit of the Probation Act.
“No if, or buts. €3,000 before 24 November, and I’ll give it to six good causes, €500 each,” said the judge.
“Seriously, you’re the last student from Maynooth University I’m giving this to,” warned the judge.