'At the time she was 19, going on 14-and-a-half,' judge says as woman avoids jail for cannabis possession

'At the time she was 19, going on 14-and-a-half,' judge says as woman avoids jail for cannabis possession
File photo.

Over €170,000 worth of cannabis was seized in an elaborate double growhouse at a house in Dunmanway but today a 22-year-old woman who was living there avoided jail as her role was described as peripheral.

Judge Seán Ó'Donnabháin said that he was satisfied to impose an entirely suspended five-year sentence on Abi Farthing even though she faced the possibility of a mandatory minimum jail term. The judge said there were several exceptional circumstances enabling him to do so at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.

Farthing, 22, pleaded guilty to having more than €13,000 worth of cannabis for sale or supply at Derragh, Dunmanway, County Cork, on January 18, 2016.

The €13,000 threshold allows for a possible minimum jail term of 10 years unless there are exceptional circumstances.

The judge noted that the defendant went to Portugal after the drugs were discovered and that the authorities had now succeeded in bringing them back to Ireland.

Notwithstanding the fact that Abi Farthing absconded, the judge noted that the prosecution was not objecting to her being remanded on bail previously.

Her senior counsel, Elizabeth O’Connell, said the defendant was only a teenager at the time the drugs were found and she had no previous convictions.

Detective Garda Andrew Manning said gardaí were aware of the names of other older defendants when they arrived with a warrant to search the house and that Abi Farthing had not been previously known to the guards.

She had been in a relationship with one of the men at the house.

Two elaborate growhouses with lighting and watering systems were found at the house containing drugs to a total value of €170,000, between mature plants in one growhouse and harvested cannabis being dried out from the second unit.

Surmising from the probation report on the accused and her degree of maturity, Judge Ó Donnabháin said of Abi Farthing, “At the time she was 19, going on 14-and-a-half.”

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