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Cannabis Growing Operation Detected In Northern Ireland


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A probation report has been ordered for a man who pleaded guilty to having a miniature cannabis-growing operation in a rented house in Castlebar. The local court heard that Thomas Lee (26), 55 Sumerfield, Castlebar was growing the plants for his own use to relieve acute pain and depression he suffered as a result of a sectarian attack in Northern Ireland some years ago.

Twelve mature plants and paraphernalia were found when detectives inspected the rented house at Manor Village after a surveillance operation last August.

The defendant had paid the landlord a deposit and some rent and agreed to pay the next instalment by direct debit. But the landlord became suspicious when the money didn't come through so he made enquiries with the neighbours, who said they hadn't seen anybody coming or going from the house. He entered with his own key and found the 12 plants upstairs in a locked bedroom.

Photos of the operation showed plastic covering the walls, which was there to keep the heat in; artificial lights; a ventilation system; an irrigation system; a thermostat; a fan to circulate air; a transformer to power the lights; a water tank and timers for switching the lights on and off.

After the landlord reported the matter a warrant was obtained by gardaí and surveillance was carried out. On August 28 they saw the defendant enter the house to tend to the plants. He was followed inside and during an interview took full responsibility for the operation.

Defending solicitor said his client was growing the cannabis for his own personal use. He was mostly interested in the buds of the female plant, which were the most potent. Lee, he explained, suffered from depression as a result of being a victim of a serious sectarian assault in Northern Ireland in his teens in which he suffered acute facial and arm injuries. His client had had a metal object rammed through his arm and had to live with prominent facial scarring. As a result of threats he moved south. On moving down here he had problems with drink and drugs and suffered another assault, which worsened the injury to his arm. The cannabis, Mr Crowley explained, helped him relieve the acute pain he suffered in his face and arm, and the depression.

Mr Crowley further added that Lee grew his own cannabis because he didn't want to be involved with people who supplied drugs to others.

Judge Mary Devins was shocked to hear that it only cost €1,340 to set up the operation and in adjourning the case until June 6 for a probation report she said she would need some more information about Lee.

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