Kate McGrew legally challenged the prosecution through solicitor Emmet Boyle on the basis that the landlord’s discovery of the cannabis-growing tent was illegal and the Garda search warrant was defective.
Following submissions from Mr Boyle and Insp Adrian Gamble, Judge Olann Kelleher concluded the landlord’s entry was legal and the warrant was valid.
He convicted McGrew on the charge of cultivating the cannabis at apartment 4, 30 Patrick’s Hill, on May 24, 2014. Mr Boyle said the defendant worked for an NGO providing help for people in the sex industry. Judge Kelleher said in light of the fact she had no previous convictions he would ask for a probation report in advance of sentencing on January 30.
Landlord Liam O’Driscoll said McGrew was living in apartment at the relevant time . “I saw her on TV coming out as a prostitute...” he said yesterday, adding this caused him concern. He also said she was behind in rent; could not be reached on her phone; and he had not seen her for some time. On that particular day he was knocking on the door of her flat when he got a smell that he described as pungent, nauseating, and like something rotting.
Ms McGrew had changed the locks. Mr O’Driscoll became so concerned at this combination of factors that he asked his builder to force the door of Ms McGrew’s flat.
He said: “I thought maybe something has happened. She could be lying on the floor inside. I went in and searched the rooms. There was no sign of Kate. The apartment was in disarray.
“In one of the bedrooms I saw this tent, there was water and cannabis plants, a bit like a jungle of plants. I have often seen pictures of cannabis plants but you have no idea of the heft of the smell, it is like you are smelling a rotting animal.”
Cross-examining, Mr Boyle solicitor enumerated the witness’s concerns as: The smell of cannabis; that the premises was being used as a brothel; the locks had been changed; and he was afraid someone was dead inside. He argued these were not sufficient grounds for a landlord to enter a tenant’s flat without agreement and did not constitute an emergency.
Garda Laura O’Connor, alerted by the landlord, obtained a warrant and found the drugs. While Mr Boyle submitted there were errors in the warrant, the judge ruled they were not fatal to the warrant. The judge told McGrew it was in her own interests to co-operate with the probation service.