Had cannabis near children’s play area

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It was suspicious that a Lurgan man who was carrying drugs was standing close to a children’s play area, a judge commented last Wednesday at a sitting of Craigavon Magistrates Court.

Michael Paul McGrath (21), whose address was given to the court as Rectory Park, Lurgan, admitted unlawful possession of cannabis on August 28 this year.

He was sentenced to one month in prison, suspended for a period of 12 months.

The court heard that at 4.05pm at Charles Street in Lurgan police saw the defendant leaning against a wall opposite a children’s playground.

Children were playing there, a prosecutor told the court.

McGrath ran off but was stopped about 200 metres away.

He produced two small bags of cannabis from his trousers.

A larger bag of cannabis was found in the sleeve of his hoodie. He also had 30 empty small ‘deal bags’ and there was evidence of cannabis found in his wallet.

He told police that he was not saying anything until his solicitor arrived and that the drugs were for his own use and not for supplying.

A barrister representing McGrath said that he was only charged with possession and that if he had faced a supplying charge he would be looking at immediate custody.

She explained that he was a young man who had a problem with drugs and had gone to the addictions clinic who had referred him to Bluestone.

The lawyer added that he had an appointment with the Bluestone unit on December 1 but could not make it because of a stomach bug.

Bluestone had offered him another appointment.

McGrath had one previous conviction for a similar offence and a caution on his record.

Saying it was concerning District Judge Mrs Bernie Kelly said she didn’t think it was a coincidence McGrath was standing outside a children’s play area with that amount of drugs on him.

She was also not impressed to find that he did not go to the Bluestone unit.

Judge Kelly said it was the defendant’s third drugs matter and she was suspicious of what he was doing near a children’s play park with bags of drugs in his possession.

She ruled that the matter was so serious there was only one sentence she could impose but mindful of the defendant’s guilty plea she suspended the sentence.