KILKENNY Circuit Court heard harrowing evidence of how three Chinese men were trafficked to a cannabis cultivation warehouse in the county, haven’t seen their families, were held against their will and lived in fear, while one of them made three attempts on his life since being imprisoned.
Guotai Lin (60), Lin Lin (41) and Chao Long He (36) were arrested on May 2, 2012 after detectives uncovered a sophisticated cannabis factory in Piltown and they’ve spent the last twelve months behind the bars.
Senior Counsel Aidan Doyle said Chao Long He was particularly vulnerable and has made three attempts on his life since his arrest. He suffered a fracture to his spine, skull and ribs, serious bruising to his brain and ‘a ghastly’ injury to his wrist as he bit through arteries in an attempt to take his own life.
He also tried to hang himself at Limerick prison and Judge Alice Doyle confessed to being surprised that a medical report showed Chao Long He was not suffering from a psychotic disorder. Rather his suicide attempts were an acute reaction to the considerable stress he was under and living in fear of the people he owes money to for bringing him to Piltown and employing him.
Mr Doyle said, “Chao Long He has a wife and child in China and he was sending money home. He was effectively smuggled into the country with no papers and put into a growhouse. He accepted he cultivated the drugs, but had difficulty in the early stages grasping the charge of sale or supply. He signed a destruction order. There is a reference to the person who brought him to Ireland in his statement. His cousin from Lismore visited him in prison and hospital and is willing to assist. All he wants to do is to go home to China.”
Paddy McCarthy SC said Guotai Lin hasn’t seen his two children for twelve years. He claimed asylum in the UK, was smuggled into Ireland and had very little home comforts living in the confines of a sleeping quarters within the Piltown warehouse.
Mr McCarthy said the problem with each of the accused was they were undocumented and lived a difficult life within the Chinese community. He suggested Guotai Lin was in fear of his life in prison and he saw no benefit in keeping him in jail. He suggested that the three men also saved the state a considerable amount of money by pleading guilty at an early stage and avoiding a lengthy trial as 34 witnesses had been due to give evidence.
John O’Kelly SC said Lin Lin worked as a decorator in China and helped prepare the warehouse in Piltown with his carpentry work and knocking of the walls between the two industrial units. He was to receive €800 a week for his work.
He arrived in London in 2000 and sought refugee status. He received a £60 fine for selling counterfeit DVD’s in 2001 in the UK.
Mr O’Kelly pointed out, “One of the holds over them was they wouldn’t be paid until the job was done. There was an element of fear. If Lin Lin got things wrong he’d get a beating. He has a 17-year-old son that he hasn’t seen for 12 years.”
Mr O’Kelly said this was a classic example where people were exploited by traffickers.
“They were preyed upon. They are not a threat to society. They were involved in something that went wrong and now they’ve fears. This State has enough of a burden on it without imprisoning three men that aren’t likely to bother this state again.”