Belfast Telegraph

Ex-Ulster and Ireland rugby star admits having herbal cannabis

By Paul Higgins

A former Ulster and Ireland rugby star was handed a conditional discharge on Wednesday after he admitted having herbal cannabis.

At Newtownards Magistrates Court, defence solicitor Andrew Russell said 33-year-old Ryan Cyril Caldwell was pleading guilty to possessing class B cannabis on March 10 last year.

A prosecuting lawyer outlined how Caldwell was a passenger in a car which was stopped at a police checkpoint on the Springhill Road in Bangor.

Officers noticed a "strong smell" of cannabis and when they asked if there was anything "you shouldn't have" in the vehicle, Caldwell produced a small bag of herbal cannabis, admitting it was for his own personal use in relation to "an old hip injury."

Mr Russell said Caldwell, who appeared in court on crutches, had hip replacement surgery last week, suffers from arthritis and "concussive injuries" so while "it's accepted there's an element of recreational use," the ex-rugby star "gets pain relief from it."

Deputy District John Rea said given Caldwell has a previous caution for possessing a class A drug, "there's a pattern emerging so rather than imposing a financial penalty what I will do is impose a 12 month conditional discharge."

He told Caldwell, from Castlecoole Park in Belfast, that "if you keep out of trouble you will hear nothing more about this" but earned the ex-rugby star that if he re-offended, he would be sentenced again.

The former Ulster and Ireland lock, also played for Bath and Exeter Chiefs before his career finished two years ago.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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