Eamon Hourihan, aged 52, yesterday pleaded guilty to cultivating cannabis at Templeboden, Ballincurrig, Leamlara, Co Cork, on May 17, 2011, and having the drug for sale or supply.
Garda Kieran Glynn testified at Cork Circuit Criminal Court yesterday that Hourihan had not made any money out of growing cannabis but its potential street value when he was caught two years ago amounted to €82,000.
Hourihan, who now lives in Monkstown, faced the possibility of a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 10 years because of the quantity of drugs.
However, Judge Patrick J Moran imposed a sentence of five years suspended.
The judge said: “There have been a number of testimonials handed in and they all speak well of you. You set up your own business which unfortunately collapsed in the current economic climate.
“You have managed to get some employment and are now working on a part-time basis.
“The activity you were involved in is a very easy way of making money of the wrong kind. You obviously thought about this and decided to use this farmhouse and adapted it. You did this with considerable intent and that makes the matter particularly serious.
“However, having said that, Garda Glynn tells me you did not make any profit out of it. Once he appeared with his search warrant you would appear to have pulled yourself together and made that the end of your drug road. I don’t think that sending you to prison would be of any benefit to society.”
Garda Glynn obtained a search warrant on foot of confidential information that cannabis was being grown at the remote farmhouse.
“At 2.30pm on May 17, 2011, I entered the house to conduct a search. Eamon Hourihan was present. The house had been transformed for the growth of cannabis. There were 108 mature plants and 100 saplings.”
James O’Mahony, defending, handed in correspondence that he said contained glowing character references for the accused.
“This whole event has devastated this family. He has done everything he possibly can to rehabilitate himself. He is an exceptional person with an exceptional past.”