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‘Test tube’ cannabis grower in court

A self-taught cannabis grower who was cultivating plants in his bedroom in a “sophisticated way” without the use of soil, was interested in the science of the process, Ennis District Court heard last week.

John Conneely of Shandangan, Corofin pleaded guilty to the cultivation of cannabis plants at his address, having cannabis for sale or supply and possession of controlled drugs on May 25, 2015.

At a sitting of Ennis District Court on Thursday last, gardaí outlined that eight cannabis plants and 450g of cannabis valued at €9,000 was found at the defendant’s home.

The defendant alleged he was cultivating for personal use only and that the way the drugs were found – separated out into different jars – was not for selling purposes but rather to separate out the flavours.
Solicitor for Conneely, Stiofán Fitzpatrick, said his client, who he described as reclusive, is in his 40s and lives at home with his parents. He left school at 14. Despite getting work in a garage and as a labourer, his employment history ground to a halt with the downturn and following the break-down of a relationship.

He said Conneely turned his attention to science and developed a keen interest in the subject.
Mr Fitzpatrick told the court that his client was a “self taught” cannabis grower and it was the science of the process that interested him. This was why he had the plants separated out in different jars, as he was interested in the flavours.

Mr Fitzpatrick told the court that Conneely had a “sophisticated way of growing” the plants “without the use of soil” or standard gardening methods.

Judge Patrick Durcan, presiding, asked him to clarify what he meant. “Was this like test tube babies?” he asked.

“It wasn’t that far but it was highly sophisticated,” Mr Fitzpatrick responded.

He said his client had such knowledge of the process that he could give a tutorial on the chemical breakdown of the plants, what was in them and what the good and bad elements of them were.

He highlighted that Conneely was not selling, although he had pleaded to that charge and that gardaí found no phone traffic to support this nor did they find a tick list of people owing money for drugs.

The court heard that Conneely was using the drugs to help him sleep and “not to get a buzz” from it.

Inspector John Ryan, prosecuting, said the aggravating factors in the case were that the quantity of cannabis involved was substantial and that they were separated into different jars. He said the defendant was very forthright in his involvement with the drugs and he seemed “to have a great knowledge of it”.
Judge Durcan said this was “a very unusual case” and one he would have to think about before passing judgment.

He adjourned the matter to July 27 for pronouncement of sentence.

By Carol Byrne

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