A FATHER of three was forced into the drug trade because his life was "under threat" over money he owed, a court was told.
Philip Farrell (31) was caught with more than €800 worth of heroin at his home when gardai raided it.
Judge William Hamill ordered a probation report on him after gardai confirmed that Farrell had been under "some form of duress" at the time he was caught with the drugs.
Farrell, of Emmet Manor, Inchicore, pleaded guilty to possession of heroin with intent to sell or supply at his home on October 5, 2009.
Dublin District Court heard Farrell was otherwise "not involved in drugs at all".
"Mr Farrell was somebody who was under threat in relation to his life," Farrell's solicitor said.
"He had got himself into trouble with some persons over debt and that is how he became involved in this.
"He was called upon to become involved in it. It was not for any gain for himself but as a way of paying the debt he owed."
Judge Hamill said there was an option open to the accused to make a complaint to the garda if he had been forced to offend because he was threatened.
Farrell's solicitor said that he had not wanted to do that. The accused worked at spray-painting and fitting kitchens, but work was very infrequent. He was now on social welfare.
"The gardai believe he was under some form of duress at the time the substance was found in his possession," a sergeant told the court.
Farrell had been previously given a four-month sentence that had been suspended for a year.
His solicitor asked Judge Hamill to deal with the case by way of another suspended sentence.
Judge Hamill said he would need to see a probation report and adjourned the case to October 29.
"I might take the unusual step of doing something different from what I am obliged to do," the judge added.