A Cork man caught with more than €1,000 worth of cannabis herb and six cannabis plants had put his “nascent career in horticulture” behind him, a court heard.
James Curtin, 32, who is originally from Midleton but now lives in Lagos, Nigeria, had fallen ill and his sister called for help as she believed her brother was having a heart attack.
When a garda responding to the incident entered the house, she smelled cannabis and saw suspected cannabis.
She later returned with a search warrant and found six small cannabis plants, a heat lamp and fan and more than €1,000 worth of cannabis herb.
Curtin was fully cooperative with gardaí and said the cannabis was for his own personal use. He had bought the seeds online and searched the internet for information on how to grow them.
Gardaí told Midleton District Court they were satisfied the cannabis was for personal use.
Judge Alec Gabbett said while he understood the operation was not large-scale, he questioned whether it could have developed into something bigger, like growing hydroponic cannabis in 40ft containers, had he not been caught.
His solicitor Ken Murray said Curtin was a member of a long-established, hard-working Midleton family.
He only had one previous conviction for a minor road traffic offence.
And he is currently working as a manager on building projects in Nigeria.
At the time of the offence, the defendant “was going through an experimental stage of little green fingers”. Mr Murray said.
But Judge Gabbett noted Curtin had already indeed processed the plant and the defendant admitted he had grown the 10 jars of cannabis herb found during the search.
Judge Gabbett said information on processing cannabis would be readily available online, quickly removing any mystery around it.
“Google will provide the answers to that. Does he have a hot press, Mr Murray?” Judge Gabbett asked.
“The growth of this is the problem, it is illegal to grow this plant,” he said.
“It causes terrible mental ill-health to young people, and probably to himself. That’s my concern.
“I’m sure if he had gotten good at it, and he could have gotten very good at it, he might have ended with 40ft hydroponic containers.”
But Mr Murray assured him his client’s “nascent career in horticulture is over” and he is now saving to buy a house.
Judge Gabbett sentenced him to three months in prison but suspended it for three years.
“I don’t think that will prohibit him from travelling but I hope it will prohibit any growing.”
Judge Gabbett then wished him well on his return to Lagos.