A vulnerable Lithuanian man who was “somewhat coerced” to come to Ireland and work in a cannabis grow house tending to over €100,000 worth of plants has been jailed for one year.
Andrius Gnizinskas, 32, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to cultivating cannabis plants at St Patrick’s Road, Drumcondra on January 4, 2017. He has no previous convictions.
Judge Karen O’Connor noted Mr Gnizinskas had been in the UK as a result of human trafficking and was vulnerable and “somewhat coerced” into coming to this country.
She noted his plea had saved the state significant resources and accepted his involvement was at the “very low end”.
She said Mr Gnizinskas had no role in setting up the grow house and did not gain materially. Judge O’Connor imposed three years imprisonment and suspended the final two years.
Garda Niall Smith told Lorcan Staines BL, prosecuting, that following the discovery of a cannabis grow-house in Dundalk, gardaí recovered documents relating to the St Patrick’s Road property.
Mr Gnizinskas was the sole person present when gardaí searched the property and found 180 mature cannabis plants growing. The plants were close to harvest and had a value of €144,000.
Gda Smith said the entire property, apart from the sitting room, had been adapted to the operation.
Gardaí found sophisticated equipment including heat lamps, water purifying systems and a tin foil type material designed to increase light to the plants. The electrical system had also been overridden.
Mr Gnizinskas told gardaí he had been living on the streets in the UK when he met a man who told him he could make money in Ireland. He said he was bought clothes and a bus ticket. He was picked up on his arrival in Dublin and brought to the house.
The house had been set up before he arrived and Mr Gnizinskas was instructed what to do. He would be contacted each day for an update and people would call to the house during the week.
He said he received money to live on but had no option to go home and felt like an “animal” in the house. He said when he was sick he was accompanied to the doctor and had to pay for it himself.
Mr Gnizinskas told gardaí the first batch of plants had died and this crop was the second batch which had been planted. He said he knew it was illegal but had to survive himself.
The garda agreed with defence counsel, Andrew King BL, that Mr Gnizinskas’s only facility was a mattress on the floor in the sitting room and he was provided with the capacity to purchase food. He agreed Mr Gnizinskas was on “a very short leash” and was a vulnerable person.
Mr King submitted that his client had been in very lowest position in this operation – “a gardener and a bad one at that”. He said Mr Gnizinskas had been a very vulnerable young man who had been easily targeted.
He handed in a testimonial on his client’s behalf and submitted Mr Gnizinskas had co-operated with the investigation.
Fiona Ferguson, CCC.nuacht