A Polish native was sentenced to five years in prison after appearing at Longford Circuit Court last month.
Vladislavs Eitminovics, who had been in custody since December 9, 2014, was accused of the cultivation of cannabis at a house in the Gleann Riada estate in Longford town. A Russian interpreter was sworn in to assist the court.
Garda Karl Foley confirmed that on December 9, 2014, as a result of intelligence and enquiries, the Gardaí secured a search warrant for a property at 85 Gleann Riada, Strokestown Road, Longford.
Garda Foley confirmed that they attended the house at approximately 11.15am and it was vacant.
He described it as a two-storey house in a cul de sac and pointed out that it was attached to number 84.
Garda Foley explained that there was a strong smell of cannabis at the premises and that when searched, “an elaborate growhouse facility” was discovered, with rooms for the growing, drying and packing of cannabis. When the accused, the sole tenant of the house, arrived home, he was shown the search warrant and cautioned.
When questioned by Gardaí, Mr Eitminovics said he was acting as security in the house and was in receipt of payment for allowing someone else to use the upstairs rooms of the house. When asked why his fingerprints were located in a number of the upstairs rooms, where the cultivation and preparation of the cannabis was taking place, he replied that he was ensuring the machines used to aid the growth and packing of the drug continued to work.
The defendant also alleged that there was a man coming and going to and from the house frequently.
Garda Foley added that Mr Eitminovics claimed another person set him up in the house and that person’s house was also searched.
It emerged that €107,850 worth of cannabis herb was seized from number 85 Gleann Riada, along with cannabis plants with a potential market value of €32,000.
The court heard that Mr Eitminovics is a native of Poland but was born in Latvia. He moved to Ireland in 2009 and does not have any family in the country. At the time of his arrest, the defendant was living in Gleann Riada for approximately a year and five months.
It was also revealed that Mr Eitminovics was in receipt of social welfare and had previously lived in Galway.
When questioned by counsel for the accused, Mr Fogarty BL, Garda Foley acknowledged that Mr Eitminovics did not seem to be a wealthy man.
The court then heard that Mr Eitminovics had no previous convictions in Ireland and had been in custody since his arrest in December 2014.
After taking the aggravating and mitigating factors of the case into account, Judge Keenan Johnson pointed out; “It’s a very serious offence. The abuse of cannabis is a scourge on the countryside.”
Taking into account the time spent in custody and the accused’s early plea of guilt, Judge Johnson sentenced Mr Eitminovics to five years’ imprisonment, backdated to December 9, 2014 and with the final 18 months suspended on the condition that Mr Eitminovics leave Ireland within ten days of his release from prison.