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Thursday 2 October 2014

Lung cancer survivor who 'grew cannabis plants partly for pain relief' avoids jail

Judge ordered that the crop be destroyed 'if they haven’t died already'

By Jessica Magee

Published 17/07/2014 | 16:30

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Young (Stephen) Given a suspended sentence for cultivating cannabis, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, 17-7-14 
Pic shows: Stephen Young (46), of Red Archers Close, Baldoyle, at court yesterday (Thurs.) given a suspended sentence for cultivating cannabis at Glasslynn Apartments, Howth Road on October 15, 2012.
Pic: Courtpix
Stephen Young (46), of Red Archers Close, Baldoyle, Dublin. Photo: Courtpix

A lung cancer survivor who said he grew cannabis plants partly for pain relief has avoided going to jail.

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Father-of-one Stephen Young (46) pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to cultivating cannabis at Glasslynn Apartments, Howth Road on October 15, 2012.

The court heard that Young, of Red Archers Close, Baldoyle, went to “elaborate lengths” to shield his daughter from the drugs by renting a room in a different house for the purpose of growing the plants.

Judge Mary Ellen Ring suspended a two and a half year jail sentence on condition that Young is of good behaviour for that period and carries out 75 hours of community service.

She said there was “some substance” to Young's claim that he used the drug partly to deal with pain, as it is administered for pain relief in some countries.

After imposing sentence she ordered that the crop be destroyed “if they haven’t died already”.

Garda Niall McDonnell told Fiona Murphy BL, prosecuting, that the flat was empty when gardaí raided it. They found 14 potted flowering cannabis plants ready for harvest in an en-suite bathroom off one of the bedrooms, along with drug cultivation equipment.

The plants were worth €11,200 in total, based on a value of €800 per plant.

A week later, Young went to gardaí and took responsibility for the plants and cultivation equipment, saying the cannabis was for his own use.

Young said smoking cannabis gave him relief from cramps he had after an operation, but that he mostly used it “for recreational purposes”.

He said he smoked three to four joints a day and that the quantity of cannabis in the plants would last him up to four months. Young said he grew the drugs himself “to cut out the middle man” as he didn't want to interact with drug dealers.

He didn't want to grow the plants in his own house as his 12-year-old daughter goes there and he didn't want her to come into contact with cannabis.

Young expressed surprise that the drugs had a value of over €11,000, as he thought they were worth about €4,000.

He has a several minor previous convictions for road traffic offences, the most recent dating back to 2003.

James Dwyer BL, defending, said his client was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2008 and underwent chemotherapy, radiation therapy and a lumpectomy. He used to work in construction but is now on disability and suffers from nerve pain as a result of his operation.

The court heard that nerve pain is common among lung cancer patients where the removal of a tumour causes nerves to be pushed against bone.

A number of medical reports were presented in court, including one from his GP last month noting that Young suffers from pain in his right lung and smokes cannabis for its analgesic effects.

Judge Mary Ellen Ring noted none of the doctors had condemned Young's use of cannabis as a painkiller.

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