A soldier who claims to have tested positive for cocaine after his drink was spiked has filed a lawsuit in the High Court aimed at preventing his release from the Standing Defense Forces.
The lawsuit was brought by Pte Leon Gordon, who denies having deliberately taken cocaine or any controlled substance.
He says he unwittingly ingested the substance after his drink was fortified by another individual. This person admitted to spiking the drink and apologized for his actions.
Despite this person’s admission, the court heard that Pte Gordon’s release from the Standing Defense Forces (PDF) was due to take place in the coming days.
The court heard that Pte Gordon, following a random drug test performed by the PDF in September 2020, had tested positive for cocaine.
As a result, he was subject to internal disciplinary proceedings. Following an initial hearing, his commanding officer recommended that he be removed from his post, which he appealed.
Initially, Pte Gordon, a soldier for 14 years who also works part-time as a bartender, couldn’t explain why cocaine was in his system.
At the High Court on Wednesday Nathan Jones BL, on behalf of O’Regan Little’s attorneys, for Pte Gordon, said prior to this call his client had received a communication from a local politician, Cllr Gino O’Boyle.
They were both at a social occasion in September 2020, days before the random drug test was taken.
Councilor O’Boyle informed his client that another person, who had a reputation for adding drinks containing controlled drugs, had also attended the same event.
The lawyer said a third party admitted to his client, in a statement, that he increased the plaintiff’s drink and apologized for his actions.
This information was passed to the PDF agent who heard the call. However, the recommendation to fire Pte Gordon was not overturned by the officer hearing the appeal.
This officer ruled that the new evidence regarding the fortified drink was not credible because Pte Gordon was unwilling to file a complaint with GardaÃ about it.
In his action, Pte Gordon alleges that the decision to recommend his release is flawed on the grounds, among other things, that the officer who heard the appeal failed to properly consider all the relevant issues before him.
The appeals officer also failed to call the person who allegedly added the drink or Cllr O’Boyle to testify. This amounted to a violation of Pte Gordon’s rights to due process.
It was further alleged that the appeal hearing officer acted irrationally and exceeded his authority in finding that the defense of involuntary ingestion lacked credibility.
The outcome of the appeal was also flawed and illegal because this hearing took place in the absence of a designated person to assist Pte Gordon.
As a result, Pte Gordon has initiated judicial review proceedings against the Minister of Defense of Ireland and the Attorney General, where he seeks orders including one overturning his commander’s decision to fire him from the PDF.
The case was brought before Judge Michael Twomey during Wednesday’s High Court recess sitting. The judge said he was satisfied, on an ex parte basis, to grant the applicant leave to present his challenge.
The judge also suspended, pending the outcome of the proceedings, the release. The case will return to court after the start of the new legal period in October.