Longford District Court: Lithuanian pair to be sentenced on cannabis charges

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Courthouse incident

Two Lithuanian nationals accused of being the orchestrators behind a “sophisticated” cannabis growhouse operation are to be sentenced later this year

Two Lithuanian nationals accused of being the orchestrators behind a “sophisticated” cannabis growhouse operation are to be sentenced later this year.

Aivaras Belekaitus (29), 28 Uishneach Court, Lynn Road, Mullingar, Co Westmeath and Gabrielle Vsynaiauskaite (23) 17 Tufton Street, Maidstone, Kent, England both pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of cannabis herb and cannabis cultivation at 37 Dun Darrach on April 11 2016.


The pair had submitted their pleas at a previous court sitting with the Director of Public Prosecutions indicating it was not proceeding with two other charges by entering a nolle prosequi.


It had been anticipated that both defendants would be sentenced at a sitting of Longford Circuit Criminal Court last week.


However, defence counsel for Mr Belekaitus asked for the court to postpone its judgement pending the submission of an expert report to be used in mitigation to Mr Belekaitus' overall plea.


Judge John Hannon approved that request, not before evidence detailing the discovery of the growhouse was disclosed to the court.


Garda Clement Cunniffe said gardaí obtained a warrant to search the premises after an unidentified individual linked to the local drugs trade was seen at the property.


He said when gardaí arrived, they were greeted by Ms Vsynaiauskaite.
Garda Cunniffe noted that there was a strong smell of cannabis.


Upon inspecting the upstairs of the house, he observed two large bedrooms which had been transformed into a cannabis growing operation.


High intensity lights, together with a full extraction and hydration system were among some of the various paraphernalia detected at the scene.


In total, 150 cannabis plants were found, the bulk of which were described as being “seadlings”.
A further quantity of cannabis herb was found downstairs in recycled jam jars.


In response to questioning from Mr Belekaitus' defence barrister, Garda Cunniffe acknowldged the 29-year-old had taken responsibility for the cannabis found.


He also told of how Mr Belekaitus had informed gardaí the reason he became associated with the controlled drug was to ease pain symptoms he suffered from his amputated left leg.


This, it was revealed, came after Mr Belekaitus was the victim of an unprovokedstabbing back in his native country in 2010.
During his interview with gardaí shortly after his arrest the court was informed that Mr Belekaitus co-operated with the investigation and was fully transparent as to his own involvement.


“What can I say, I apologise,” he said in his statement.
“I am just a simple person who likes to smoke weed.
“I am not part of a gang.”


Garda Cunniffe said his co-accused and now ex-partner, Ms Vsynaiauskaite had initially denied any knowledge of what gardaí had discovered and that she was not residing there.


Follow up investigations later uncovered Ms Vsynaiauskaite's CV, a dog permit and the property's tenancy agreement which was in her name.
Defence barrister John Shortt, SC, underlined his client's hard working charachter and sporting dexterity as an up and coming basketball player.


After working for a time in a fast food restaurant in Ballinalack, Ms Vsynaiauskaite, a linguist in three languages, severed her ties with Longford by moving to Kent with her parents.


Mr Shortt said she is presently continuing her education overseas and also holds down a job with restaurant chain, Nandos.


Judge John Hannon adjourned the case until May 31 for mention at Longford Circuit Court.