Cultivating over €300,000 worth of cannabis at grow houses in three locations across county Cork resulted in a man getting a suspended jail term today.
Key factors in the case were that the accused man was under pressure from others to carry out the drug-related activity to clear a debt, that the crimes dated back to 2015 and that the accused had completely turned his life around since that time.
Darren O’Connor whose address at the time of being charged was given as 6 The Circle, Gleann Na Rí, Tower, County Cork, pleaded guilty to three charges of cultivating cannabis at different locations across Cork.
O’Connor admitted cannabis cultivation offences on February 21 2015 at Ruhillmore, Boherbue, Mallow, on March 15 2015 at Caum, Macroom, and on April 8 at Kilmeady, Millstreet, County Cork.
Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin imposed a fully suspended of three years on O’Connor at Cork Circuit Criminal Court today.
Defence barrister, Ronan Barnes, said of the accused, “He made full admission. There was someone to whom he owed a debt. He was not at the top of this pyramid. He is now in full time gainful employment.
“The offences occurred at time when he was going through a very difficult period… It has borne on his mind for five years. The delay in bringing the case was not his fault.”
Detective Garda Donal O’Dwyer said that back in February 2015, gardaí received information which led to the searches of the three properties.
The owners of one house alerted gardaí to activity that concerned them in the property that they had rented out to others.
Totalling the potential value of plants being cultivation in grow houses at the three houses and cannabis that was drying the total potential street value was €300,000.
The defendant had some knowledge that would have facilitated cultivation and those to whom he owed a drugs debt took advantage of that, Det. Garda O’Dwyer said.
They were the ones who rented the houses and set up the grow houses for the accused to operate to clear the debt.
Judge Ó Donnabháin said to mark the seriousness of the case he would impose a three-year sentence but suspended in its entirety.
“This man has changed his ways. He has come before the court as a different person from the one who committed the offences when a prison sentence would have been all but inevitable,” the judge said.