A Polish national who acted as “the gardener” overseeing a drugs growhouse in Rathdowney containing over 300 cannabis plants has been given a suspended sentence.
Appearing before the recent Portlaoise Circuit Court was Dariusz Rejniewicz, (29), with an address listed at 61 Oaklawn West, Leixlip, Kildare, who was caught at Middlemount, Rathdowney, on December 6, 2011.
Detective Garda Mark Russell gave evidence that gardaí had entered a three-bedroom cottage and found that two rooms had been fitted out with tin foil, overhead lighting and an air filtration system, for growing cannabis.
Some of the electricity used was being paid for – but a piece of wire had been used to stop the meter reading the full consumption of electricity.
A total of 331 cannabis plants were seized, which had an estimated value of €132,400.
In interview, Rejniewicz fully admitted his involvement.
He had been in employment since arriving in Ireland, but had lost his job and fallen on hard times.
Dec Russell said that the defendant had been offered an opportunity to stay in the house and tend to the cannabis plants.
“He simply had no money,” said Dec Russell.
“He said he was going to be offered €4,000 to €5,000 at one point, but I don’t think he got anything at that point. He was getting food.”
Dec Russell explained that the house was being rented, but trying to trace who had rented the property had led to a dead end.
The detective went on to say that the growhouse was a bit more sophisticated and safer than most, as there weren’t just “wires pulled out and stuck together”, as was sometimes the case.
The court heard that Rejniewicz has been in Ireland seven years and has 11 previous convictions.
Defence, Mr Hugo Hynds said that Rejniewicz had been living in the house for around six weeks and all he had received was €350 and some food.
“Food was delivered to him on an intermittent basis – he was hungry at that stage,” said defence.
“He said he was desperate,” replied Dec Russell.
Defence suggested that, as there is usually more than one person involved in drug cultivation, Rejniewicz’s standing in the hierarchy had been at the lower end of things.
Dec Russell agreed, and said that Rejniewicz had been “the gardener”.
In summation, Mr Hynds said that his client was a Polish national whose choice in his home country had been join the army, or leave Poland to try to find work.
He said that Rejniewicz had been desperate at the time of the offence.
Judge Tony Hunt accepted that Rejniewicz had got involved in the operation through desperation, and remarked that he did not have the propensity to be a repeat offender.
The judge put the matter back for a probation report, saying that if the report was favourable he would suspend a three-year sentence against Rejniewicz.
Judge Hunt also imposed 240 hours’ community service, in lieu of a concurrent three-year sentence.
The case was adjourned to March 6, 2014.