A man who set up one of the most sophisticated grow houses for cannabis that a garda had ever seen has been given a suspended prison sentence by Kilkenny Circuit Court.
Jurica Nikic, 13 St John’s Terrace, Dublin Road, Kilkenny, was convicted of cultivating cannabis.
Charges of being in possession of cannabis and having drugs for sale or supply were taken into consideration by Judge Orla Crowe.
The court heard that on September 25, 2019, gardaí obtained a warrant under the Misuse of Drugs Act and searched a premises at St John’s Terrace, Kilkenny.
Gardaí met Mr Nikic at the house and asked him if he had anything he shouldn’t have. He produced a jar containing certain drugs and indicated other items.
Gardaí found 31 cannabis plants in the house and a very small amount of MDMA powder.
The estimated value of the cannabis plants was €13,543. The MDMA was worth €50.
Judge Crowe said the property was “effectively a cannabis grow house.”
A garda told the court that it was one of the most sophisticated grow houses he had seen in his career. A lot of effort had been put into it.
Mr Nikic was cooperative with gardaí and said he supplied his friends “if they came looking.”
Gardaí did not find a ‘tick list’ at the house and they were of the view the defendant did not show signs of an excessive lifestyle. There was no evidence Mr Nikic had been selling the cannabis.
There were no previous convictions recorded against Mr Nikic.
Judge Crowe was told the defendant had an addiction and was smoking “a considerable amount” of cannabis.
After his arrest Mr Nikic was in custody for 21 days. He was released on bail and has since abided by his bail conditions.
The court heard the defendant started smoking cannabis after his cousin died and he suffered from depression. He started growing cannabis to feed his own habit. He developed a serious addiction despite the fact he was industrious and was working two jobs at the time.
Mr Nikic is 41 and has no previous convictions. He has not come to garda attention since. He found himself before the court on what Judge Crowe described as a “really serious matter.”
It had come as a shock to his family.
Judge Crowe said a Probation Report prepared for the court said Mr Nikic is at low risk of offending and ongoing supervision was not recommended.
The judge said the effects of drugs on society are plain for all to see.
This man, having developed a cannabis habit, ended up in court. She described this as “self-inflicted” and that Mr Nikic “is his own primary victim.”
He was “caught red handed,” Judge Crowe said, adding that Mr Nikic is a man of talent who used his talents to create a sophisticated growhouse.
Judge Crowe noted that gardaí had put a value of €13,543 on the cannabis plants and this was at the lower end of the scale as they couldn’t be sure how mature the plants were. A top value for mature plants would have been in excess of €34,000.
“The court is mindful it has to mark the seriousness of this matter. This is behaviour that is not acceptable to society,” Judge Crowe said. “These are illegal drugs that cause misery.”
In light of Mr Nikic’s guilty plea, his cooperation with gardaí and his efforts to deal with his addiction Judge Crowe imposed a sentence of 18 months imprisonment on the charge of cultivating cannabis plants.
To incentivise his rehabilitation, Judge Crowe suspended the sentence in full on condition Mr Nikic enter a bond to keep the peace and be of good behaviour for four years.
A destruction order was issued for the seized drugs.
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