A hydroponic tent housing 14 cannabis plants was discovered by gardaí in the home of a Kildare man, who was last week charged with cultivation and having drugs for sale or supply.
The district court in Portlaoise heard that Alan Connolly, of 37 Connell Drive, Newbridge, was a periodic user of the drug, but his habit grew following the breakdown of a relationship and he turned to growing cannabis to pay his debt.
Connolly was charged with two counts of drug possession, one count of having a drug for sale or supply, and one count of cultivating cannabis. The date of the offences were January 2 this year, at Connolly’s former address at 3 Kill Hill Manor, Kill Hill, Monasterevin.
Inspector Aidan Farrelly gave evidence that acting on a search warrant gardaí searched the defendant’s home on that date, and discovered an extensive hydroponic set-up to grow cannabis plants. 14 plants were housed in a grow tent, at a value of around €5,000, Insp Farrelly said.
Also found was assorted drugs paraphernalia, such as deal bags, weighing scales and “a tick list” (a list of people who owed money for drugs). In addition, herbal cannabis valued at €362 was located in a downstairs bedroom, and €500 of cocaine was also seized.
Defence, Mr Philip Meagher said 27-year-old Connolly had been in a relationship and along with his partner had taken out a lease on the house. Unfortunately this relationship terminated and Connolly was left trying to pay the rent himself.
Mr Meagher said that his client ended up getting depressed and losing his job, which sent him into a spiral. He had been a periodic, recreational user of cannabis, but his habit spiralled and a suggestion was made to him that as a method of paying his debt he could grow the plants.
“He foolishly acceded to the request,” said Mr Meagher, adding that Connolly felt a sense of relief when the gardaí arrested him and he has since taken steps to address the issues.
Mr Meagher handed in a letter on behalf of his client which he said represented a heartfelt plea to the court. Defence also said that Connolly had €1,000 in court, to offer as a charitable donation.
“He’s asking the court to consider a sanction that would reflect its abhorrence at the offence, but not blight his future,” said Mr Meagher.
Judge Paul Kelly said it was a very serious matter, as the extent of the operation was obvious with a grow tent, deal bags and a tick list present.
“It was quite a sophisticated operation,” said Judge Kelly. “This was not just a one-off, it was going on some time, and there was a substantial amount of cocaine... there was close to the guts of €6,000 in drugs.”
Remarking that Connolly “isn’t a young fellow in his 20s, he should know better,” Judge Kelly put the matter back to November 27 for a probation report.