A 55-YEAR-OLD man was convicted yesterday of growing more than 70 cannabis plants in his leased apartment.
Patrick Murray of JKL Street, pleaded guilty at Edenderry District Court to the cultivation and possession of cannabis plants with intent to sell or supply.
He told gardaí he discovered he “had a flair” for growing the drug after initially planting one seed to grow plants for his own medical needs.
Garda Joseph Hughes told the court that when they arrived at Murray’s home on January 8th, 2008 they had to force entry. It was immediately apparent that the apartment was being used to cultivate cannabis.
The garda gave evidence of how the three bedrooms were used for three stages of plant growth.
In Murray’s bedroom there were 29 plants in the early stages of development and in a second, more “elaborate” room, 37 larger plants were placed under wire mesh to allow the leaves spread out.
There were three large lamps with separate power units and the windows had been completely blacked out.
The third room held the most advanced plants in eight large buckets.
They were described as “mature and tall” and ventilation was provided using a makeshift extractor fan.
In all three rooms there was plant food and compost, and as well as finding six rolled joints, gardaí found a number of magazines explaining how to grow the drug.
The court heard he had hoped to make €4,000 from the enterprise, although the cannabis found had a street value of just €950.
Murray, who has no previous convictions, said he was inspired to grow the drug to help him cope with a painful medical condition caused by a stent from cardiac treatment which prevented him sleeping at night.
He found a seed and grew it and then decided to grow more, said his solicitor Brian O’Sullivan.
He said his client had primarily been growing the drug to feed his own habit but if he had more to sell on, he would. However, he had learned his lesson.
Judge Gerard Haughton said it was difficult to believe that Murray could have gone to all the trouble and expense of setting up the rooms and the lighting simply to feed his own habit.
He imposed sentences of nine months imprisonment on the charges of cultivation and intention to sell or supply the drug and suspended the sentence for 12 months when Murray entered a peace bond.