Man convicted over cannabis growhouse

A Chinese national convicted of cultivating 395 cannabis plants at a rented house in Urlingford has been ordered to return home to China.

A Chinese national convicted of cultivating 395 cannabis plants at a rented house in Urlingford has been ordered to return home to China.

Yan Hui Wu with an address in Capel Street in Dublin admitted cultivation of 395 cannabis plants at a rented house in Urlingford on May 10, 2012.

Sergeant Elaine Dalton told the court that on foot of information gardai got a search warrant and searched a premises at 4 Togher Way, Urlingford.

Upon entering the house they met with the defendant and discovered 395 cannabis plants at various different stages of growth. There were also sophisticated lighting and irrigation systems in place and the ESB supply to the house had been interfered with.

The man was arrested and brought to the garda station where he was interviewed on four separate occasions. He denied knowledge that the plants were cannabis plants and said that he believed that they were flowers and that he had been told to water them and to turn the lights on and off.

The sergeant said that the gardai were not in a position to say how many of the plants were in a mature stage of growth and added that if all plants were mature the estimated value of the seizure would be in the region of €316,000.

Sgt Dalton also outlined that the defendant had entered the country approximately two years prior to his arrest on a false passport which he claimed he had thrown away. The defendant told gardai that he now holds a valid passport. The court also heard that he has no previous convictions and has been on bail since the offence.

Defence barrister Colman Cody said that the investigation had arisen from observations of the owner/landlord of the property who had initially rented the house to an Italian couple who were paying rent directly into a bank account. One of the terms of the agreement was that the grass of the front and rear of the property was cut on a regular basis. When this was not done that the landlord asked them to cut the grass and they said that they would but only at the front of the property and not at the back which raised the landlord’s suspicions. Sgt Dalton said that gardai believed that the defendant was only ‘the gardener’ in the operation and was not one of the main players in the operation.

Mr Cody said that there is a regular pattern whereby Chinese and Vietnamese nationals are recruited for a short period to ‘garden’ and water plants. He said that his client was living in Urlingford for approximately eight weeks prior to the offence and that prior to this he was working in a restaurant in Dublin. When he lost his job the defendant came into contact with a man who asked him to water the plants.

The court heard that the 30-year-old co operated fully with gardai and made full admissions and was granted bail in June 2012 and subsequently found restaurant work in Dublin and had saved the cost of a flight back to China. A letter from his current employers was handed into the court.

When passing sentence Judge Alice Doyle said that she took into account the mitigating factors and the fact that the defendant had savings, spent time in custody and obtained bail which ‘must say something for his character’.

“Drugs are the curse of this society and since they came into this country 30 or 40 years ago they have ruined and decimated families. This is a very serious offence,” she said before imposing a suspended sentence and ordering the defendant to leave the country.