Tuesday, 21 May 2013 11:37
TWO Chinese nationals have been sentenced to six years imprisonment after a cannabis grow-house was discovered in an industrial park in Swinford.
The haul of 1,498 cannabis plants had a value of €1.2 million, Castlebar Circuit Criminal Court heard, while cannabis herb worth €8,342 was also found during the raid on October 24 last.
Accused men Xiao Fe Weng and Shi Dong He, who have addresses at Unit 16, Swinford Business Park, Newpark, Swinford, were both illegally in the country at the time of the offence and they were described as being down the food chain in terms of the operation.
Sergeant Thomas McIntyre outlined to Judge Carmel Stewart how a sophisticated cannabis growing operation was in place in the unit at New Park, Swinford, which contained a ‘building within the building’ made principally of wood and insulation.
Weng and He were found in the building. He admitted he knew he was growing cannabis and that it was illegal, while Weng was less forthcoming, claiming he believed it was flowers he was growing.
Neither man had previous convictions. Weng was only in the unit for 11 days prior to his arrest while He was there for a fortnight.
Mr. Bernard Madden, S.C., for Weng, said his client’s circumstances in China were financially poor and he came to Europe to get work to better his family at home. He paid €30,000, which he had borrowed, to be essentially smuggled in.
The pair were at the bottom of the food chain, minding the plants, having been given written instructions. Food for their keep was delivered to the unit.
He, who came to Ireland in 2000 to study English, had sought permission to stay here but was refused. He had worked. There were health issues with his parents and he was sending money home.
Before sentencing both to six years, backdated to October 24 when they were remanded in custody, the judge noted the haul involved drugs valued at €1.2 million, which was a ‘very substantial’ amount.