Man caught cultivating cannabis plants worth nearly €140,000 sentenced to jail

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Court Reporter

Man caught cultivating cannabis plants worth nearly €140,000 sentenced to jail

A man caught cultivating cannabis plants worth nearly €140,000 has been jailed for three years.

Stephen Kenny (44) of Belarmine Hall, Stepaside, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possession of cannabis for sale or supply and to cultivation of cannabis at Tomdarragh, Roundwood, Co Wicklow, on June 30, 2016.

He has six previous convictions, including a conviction for cultivation of cannabis.

Garda Brian Griffin told Noel Devitt BL, prosecuting, that enquiries by gardaí led to suspicions that cannabis was present at the address in Co Wicklow. The house was searched and cannabis plants were discovered along with cultivation equipment.

Gda Griffin said the total combined value of the cannabis plants, the plant materials and the cannabis herb found in the house was €139,140.

The owner of the house had not lived in it since December 2014 and had rented it out to a man on a short-term deal. Kenny's fingerprints matched prints that were found in the house.

Gda Griffin agreed with Giollaíosa Ó Lideadha SC, defending, that when the stalks were taken out of the plants, the value went down to around €30,000.

The garda told counsel that due to Kenny's fingerprints being found at the scene and his previous conviction for cultivation, his assessment was that Kenny was running the operation “hands on”.

Gda Griffin said he had no knowledge of any “superiors” and there was no evidence to suggest that there was anyone above Kenny. He said he believed Kenny was both involved physically in the operation and profiting from it.

The court heard that the house was “destroyed” and that the cost to fix it was “substantial”.

Mr Ó Lideadha put it to the garda that his client had written in a letter of remorse that he had a drug debt due to his own drug use and was told that doing this would clear his debt. The garda said he had no view one way or another and that he could not say if it was true that Kenny was being pressured.

Sentencing Kenny today, Judge Pauline Codd said that while Kenny had made a case that he was under pressure: “There is no evidence of that”.

However, the judge accepted that he was a person with drug addiction problems at the time. She said Kenny had an active role in the operation and had profited from it. 

She said the high value of the drugs was an aggravating factor.

The judge took into account a number of mitigating factors including Kenny's guilty plea and his family circumstances. He is the father of five children, the court heard.

The judge handed down a five year sentence and suspended the final two years on a number of conditions.