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Jail let-off for dad who went off the rails after death of his baby

A GRIEVING father went "off the rails" and started taking heroin as he struggled to cope after the tragic death of his five-month-old child, a court heard.

Stephen Ward (31) was clean of heroin and doing very well for over a year until his young child died, and he started abusing drugs again.

He was before Swords District Court for a judge to consider the activation of a six-month suspended sentence. Judge Brian Sheridan said he would not impose the suspended sentence as Ward had suffered a great tragedy.

The judge initially imposed a six-month sentence suspended for two years in October 2008.

Ward, of Belcamp Crescent in Coolock, had admitted to a number of road traffic offences, including careless driving, failing to stop for gardai and driving without insurance.

The court heard that Ward failed to stop for gardai at Barryscourt Road in Coolock on January 5, 2008.

He then rear-ended another vehicle at a roundabout before he abandoned the car and tried to escape by foot.

Defence lawyer Brendan Foley said Ward had battled a heroin addiction since he was 14 years old.


Mr Foley said Ward, who has over 70 previous convictions, was drug free at the time the suspended sentence was imposed.

The court heard the defendant managed to stay drug-free for over a year, but relapsed following the death of his five-and-a-half-month-old baby.

Mr Foley said the child's death had a devastating effect on Ward, and he slipped back into his old ways. He was caught by gardai driving without insurance or a driving licence when he turned away from a garda checkpoint on Bunratty Road, Coolock, on September 10 last year.

Mr Foley said Ward was drug-free again, stable on methadone and due to begin a treatment course with Fr Peter McVerry. Judge Sheridan adjourned the case to later this week for sent-encing on the new matters.