herald

Friday 15 December 2017

Crystal meth nurse escapes conviction

John de Lara
John de Lara

a STAFF nurse in a Dublin hospital caught with crystal meth has been left without a criminal record after making a donation to charity.

John De Lara (44) shoved a bag of the drugs into his mouth after he turned up at his friends' house while gardai were searching it.

Judge Michael Walsh dismissed the charges against him under the probation act after De Lara paid €1,000 to Fr Peter McVerry's Trust.

benefit

Two of De Lara's friends who were also charged in the case - Jocelyn Paque (43) and Arnold Gonzales (37) - were also given the benefit of the probation act, leaving them without convictions, after they donated €500 each.

De Lara, of Colepark Green in Ballyfermot, pleaded guilty at Dublin District Court to possession of crystal methamphetamine at Marlborough Road, Dublin 7, on March 31 last.

He also admitted obstructing gardai under the Misuse of Drugs Act.

Gonzales and Paque pleaded guilty to possession of crystal meth at their home.

De Lara could have lost his job if convicted and the court heard the three accused did not realise the seriousness of having crystal meth as its use in the Philippines, where it is called shabu, is similar to cannabis use in Ireland.

When Judge Walsh made his decision, De Lara's barrister asked if he would instead consider striking the case out.

Refusing, Judge Walsh said: "He has done exceptionally well."

Previously, Garda Eoghan Byrne said he searched Paque and Gonzales' basement flat under warrant.

Two small bags of crystal meth were found by gardai during that search.

Gda Byrne said De Lara arrived at the flat while gardai were searching it.

He put a packet in his mouth and tried to swallow it, but spat it out when ordered to do so.

trouble

The court heard the defendants have never been in trouble before.

Defence barrister Edel Gilligan said De Lara was working full time as a staff nurse.

He is married and has four children, three of whom are in Ireland.

Ms Gilligan said De Lara was under a lot of stress at the time.

The court heard as well as supporting his family here, De Lara is also sending money home to help relatives in the Philippines, who were devastated by an earthquake last October.

hnews@herald.ie

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