An opportunist cultivator of cannabis took the opportunity to avoid a jail term by coming up with a €5,000 contribution to a drug rehabilitation centre.
Imposing the suspended sentence, Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin also took the background to the case into consideration, the defendant’s co-operation and the fact that he had stayed out of trouble since his grow-house was detected in 2019.
A fully suspended 18-month sentence was imposed on John Sheahan, 48. Sheahan told gardaí that the crop seized by gardaí was his second harvest and that he had already made €5,000 from his first crop.
The judge said previously that there was no way Sheahan was going to avoid some penalty and he suggested a €5,000 contribution for charity.
Sentencing went ahead on the defendant’s payment of that same amount to Tabor Lodge treatment centre at Minane Bridge, County Cork.
The judge said it was appropriate the payment should be paid to this centre.
The defendant had evicted Eastern Europeans renting a house from him when he found their cannabis growhouse on the property but later he decided to chance the same illegal activity himself.
Sheahan pleaded guilty at Cork Circuit Criminal Court to having cannabis for sale or supply and to cultivating the illegal drug at his home at Ardglass, Charleville, Co Cork on October 23, 2019.
Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin quipped during the sentencing hearing, “Was it the way he objected to foreign direct investment - he throws out the developer and then takes over the business himself.”
Judge Ó Donnabháin asked the investigating officer, Detective Garda William Hosford, if he agreed with the picture being painted of the accused seeing the idea or escapade and that “when he saw it going on he took it over?” The detective said he could not put up any evidence to the contrary.
Initially, Sheahan destroyed the drugs that were there. However, he then decided to carry out the same cultivation of cannabis himself.
Det. Garda Hosford of Mallow Garda said gardaí carried out a search of Sheahan’s house and found a sophisticated cannabis growhouse with lights and a watering system set up in a shipping container in his back yard.
They found 23 mature cannabis plants with a street value of over €18,000 in the container while they also found cannabis herb with a street value of around €5,000.
Det Garda Hosford said that Sheahan told them that he had rented out the house to some Polish tenants only to discover that they had set up a growhouse operation in the container and when he discovered this, he evicted them and burned the plants that they had cultivated.
However sometime after this, he was approached by a man who offered him €5,000 to resume the growing operation and produce a crop and because he was under financial pressure, he accepted the offer and began growing another crop of plants.