Some 258 cannabis plants “at early stages of growth” were found in a shed in Derrycunnihy, a remote area between Muckross and Kenmare, Killarney District Court was told.
The cannabis plants were “for personal use”, Morgan McCarthy told members of the the Garda divisional drugs unit when they called to search the property at Insheens, Derrycunnihy, Killarney, under warrant on April 16, 2020.
Cash of €2,700 was found hidden in a sock in a bedroom and there was also small amounts of cannabis herb and cannabis resin.
Mr McCarthy, 57, pleaded guilty to a charge of cannabis cultivation, contrary to Section 17 of the Misuse of Drugs Act as well as to two counts of simple possession — of cannabis herb and resin — under Section 3 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977/84.
The court was told the State was not proceeding with a charge of possession with intent to sell or supply under Section 15 of the Misuse of Drugs Act.
Inspector Gary Carroll, prosecuting, said the estimated potential street value of the cannabis being grown, had the plants come to maturity, and could be harvested, would be in the region of €206,400.
Judge David Waters said Mr McCarthy was “a very lucky man” the State was not proceeding with the Section 15 charge.
“Why would someone need to grow that many plants for personal use?' the judge asked.
He accepted the values estimated on plants “can be unreal”. However, the reverse also applied and why someone would be growing 258 plants for personal use “stretches credibility”, the judge said.
Solicitor Padraig O’Connell said his client lived in his father’s property in Derrycunihy “in the wilderness” between Muckross and Kenmare. He was not a man of wealth and was not engaged in any trade. He had “no flash car etc”, the solicitor said.
While it may bend credulity, it was a wake-up call for Mr McCarthy, Mr O’Connell said.
“”He was fully cooperative in all matters. The State has accepted it is not a Section 15,” the solicitor said.
A fine would be appropriate given there were no previous convictions, Mr O’Connell said.
The judge granted an application by the State for a forfeiture order for the cash, and also an order for the destruction of the 258 plants.
On the basis of Morgan McCarthy’s age and no previous convictions, Judge Waters imposed a conviction and fine of €750 on the cultivation charge, with one year to pay, and he imposed convictions on both counts of possession.