Sophisticated drugs operation in Freshford

A FATHER-OF-SIX who was involved in a large scale cannabis cultivation operation at a rented house outside Freshford was ordered to leave the country and never return.

A FATHER-OF-SIX who was involved in a large scale cannabis cultivation operation at a rented house outside Freshford was ordered to leave the country and never return.

Hoang Khanh, a 55-year-old with an address at 127 Lattimer, Beacon View Road, London admitted having drugs in his possession for personal use and for sale and supply to others at Sart, Freshford on February 2.

Sergeant John Sheehy told the court that on February 2 he executed a warrant at Sart, Freshford. “There were three persons in the house including the defendant who was in a back room of the house. In the house we found a customised cannabis operation with the windows blacked out and sophisticated lighting. There were 71 cannabis plants. The house had been rented out by the owner who had rented it to a person with a false name and the owner was unaware of what was going on,” he said.

The court heard that a hole had been made in the wall of a room to bypass electricity. A second room was equipped and kitted out ready to accommodate plants but was not in use when the gardai entered the property. Following a search of the house large amounts of compost, growth hormones, plastic, ladders and heating and lighting equipment were found. The plants were in the mid life stage of growth and were four to five weeks ago with an approximate value of €56,800.

The defendant was arrested at the house and was detained at Waterford Garda Station. He was compliant at all times and was interviewed on ten occasions. The court heard that there was also a co-accused involved in the case and that the defendant had played a more minor role. “The defendant, who has no previous convictions has an excellent knowledge of the cultivation of cannabis and was brought here on a consultancy basis and was meant to stay until the first crop was harvested. The owner was a retired farmer who knew nothing and had rented the house in good faith. There was a lot of damage done to the house, approximately €6,000 or €7,000 including the construction of a three foot hole in the living room wall to bypass electricity.

The court heard that the defendant is a married father-of-six who is a cook by trade and worked and lived in Vietnam for over thirty years having come from Vietnam. He has been in custody for the past seven months and contracted tuberculosis in prison.

Judge Tom Teehan remarked that the aggravating factor in the case is the scale of the operation and that there was considerable damage done to the property by someone involved in the operation. The judge added that because of the notoriety of what went on in the farmhouse the defendant is finding it difficult to find another tenant. However the judge added that the defendant had made full admissions and didn’t appear to have benefitted personally from his involvement in drugs. He imposed a six year sentence which he suspended on condition that the defendant keep the peace and be of good behaviour and refrain from all involvement in illicit drugs and leave the country at the earliest possible opportunity and never return.