'I was forced to do it' - Vietnamese woman tells gardai after being charged with cultivating cannabis at Victorian Mansion
A 32-year-old Vietnamese woman charged with cultivating cannabis at luxury lakeside home, Tinarana House told Gardai that she was forced to do it.
At a special sitting of Ennis District Court on Sunday evening, Thuy Thi Nguyen was charged in connection with the discovery of an industrial-sized cannabis grow house at the Victorian mansion on the shores of Lough Derg near Killaloe in east Clare.
More than 500 cannabis plants at various growth stages were found at the 16-bedroomed property, Tinarana House on Friday last and initial Garda estimates put a street value of €900,000 on the plants.
The operation involved members of the Clare Divisional Drugs Unit, local uniform and plainclothes Gardaí, the Western Region Armed Support Unit and the Cork Garda Dog Unit including the unit’s dog, Laser.
In court, Det Garda Seamus Doyle of Kildare Garda Station told that when Ms Nguyen of no fixed abode was charged with the offence, she replied: “I feel upset and scared because they forced me to do it.”
Ms Nguyen required the assistance of an interpreter in court and her solicitor, John Casey said that there would be no application for bail at this time.
Judge Marie Keane granted legal aid for Mr Casey to represent the accused.
Ms Nguyen is charged with cultivating without a licence cannabis plants at Tinarana House on May 31st last contrary to Section 17 of the Mis-use of Drugs Act.
Det Doyle said that at 10.26pm on Saturday night at Ennis Garda Station, he arrested Thuy Nguyen for the purpose of charge and cautioned her.
Sgt Aiden Lonergan of Ennis Garda Station said the Garda application is for a remand in custody.
Judge Keane remanded Ms Nguyen in custody to re-appear before Ennis District Court on Wednesday, June 5th.
Judge Keane also ordered that a Vietnamese interpreter be in court on Wednesday to assist with the case.
In 2008, developers secured planning permission from Clare County Council for a €100m hotel and leisure complex with plans to include an 18-hole championship golf course at Tinarana.
However, the ambitious plans for Tinarana - which was built in the 1870s as a fishing and hunting lodge - never got off the ground after An Taisce successfully appealed against the Council decision to An Bord Pleanála in 2009.
An Taisce argued that the cumulative impact of the various parts of the development would nullify the special qualities of Tinarana, which is a protected structure.