Drink driver leads gardai to cannabis growing unit

A dopey drink driver abandoned his crashed car in such haste that he left behind a mobile phone containing clues which led gardai to find a small cannabis cultivation unit in his house, the Galway District Court heard yesterday.

Mark Campbell (27 ) with an address at 98 Gleann Dara, Rahoon, appeared before Judge Mary Fahy and pleaded guilty to a hit and run, possession of drugs, and cultivation of cannabis.

Inspector Pat McHugh told the court that on December 18, 2008, gardai in Salthill were alerted to the fact that a car had been seen driving dangerously in the Shantalla and Rahoon area. The car, which had crashed into a wall, was found abandoned with the lights still on and the keys left in the ignition. Gardai went to a house where they found the defendant standing outside as he had no keys for entry. Campbell denied driving the vehicle.

When gardai went back to remove the car a mobile phone was found inside. After going through the information contained on the mobile phone a warrant was obtained and gardai conducted a search of the defendant’s home. Inspector McHugh said that gardai found a “specially constructed unit” and two cannabis plants valued at €250 each. There was also a small amount of cannibis herb found as well as cultivation paraphernalia. The court heard that when questioned Campbell told gardai that he had started to experiment with growing cannabis. Campbell has no previous convictions.

Defence solicitor Thomas McHale said that his client, who works in the catering industry, “just panicked”. Mr McHale said that there had been a “zig-zag” in the road and Campbell, who had been intoxicated, caught the curb and the car went into a spin before hitting the wall.

Regarding the drugs matter, Mr McHale said that Campbell had been a user of cannabis at the time but that this incident had caused him to change his ways. “It was more of an experiment than anything else,” he said.

For the hit and run Judge Fahy convicted Campbell and imposed a €500 fine and disqualified him from driving for 12 months. For possession of cannabis he was fined €100, and for the cultivation of cannabis it was ordered that if deemed suitable Campbell should complete 120 hours of community service in lieu of three months in jail. The matter was adjourned to November 11 for a community service report.


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