Man converts attic into cannabis grow house to pay off debts

Under increasing pressure to pay back debts a 31-year-old man converted an attic into a grow house where 26 cannabis plants valued at over €10,000 was discovered, the Galway District Court heard this week.

Mariusz Zietek with an address at 56 An Mhanistir, Claregalway, was summoned to appear before Judge Mary Fahy on Monday for the cultivation of cannabis plants, contrary to Section 17 of the Misuse of Drugs Act, at 24 Cederwood Close, Highfield Park, Galway, on February 18, 2012. He was further charged with unlawful possession of drugs and possession of drugs with intent to sell or supply, contrary to Section 3 and 15 of the Misuse of Drugs Act, at 56 An Mhanistir on the same date. Zietek was also summoned in relation to unlawful possession of drugs at his home address on January 20, 2013.

Garda Barry Walsh gave evidence in court that a search was conducted on February 18 last year and 26 cannabis plants to the value of €10,400 were discovered in the attic which had been coverted into a grow house. The court heard that when questioned by gardai Zietek said that he was “growing the plants to pay off debts”. Garda Walsh added that canabis herb to the value of €111 was also found.

When asked about the defendant’s current circumstances Garda Walsh explained that Zietek has not come to the attention of gardai since and is not involved in the drugs trade.

However, Judge Fahy said that she needed further proof of this adding that a urine analysis and an up-to-date Garda behaviour report would be required.

Defence solicitor Brian Gilmartin said that his client is a married Polish national and father to two children who has been living in Ireland for seven years. Mr Gilmartin explained that although Zietek has been working for most of that time, about five years ago when his wife was pregnant he became unemployed and he borrowed money. “The debt didn’t go away,” said Mr Gilmartin who added that Zietek, who has no previous convictions, even moved to Portlaoise but “this individual came to his place of work and he was let go”. After moving to Tuam, and then onto Claregalway, Zietek saw the grow house “as a way to get rid of his debt which was following him”.

Garda Walsh then confirmed that the defendant was operating the grow house to pay off his debt but that he smokes cannabis as well.

Judge Fahy said that she was willing to adjourn the case but that no promises would be made in relation to sentencing. “I need an assurance this man is no longer involved in this type of offence, otherwise he is looking at a custodial sentence,” warned Judge Fahy before adjourning the matter to November 6 for urine analysis plus a full Garda behaviour report.

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