Wednesday 21 August 2019

Man 'found asleep' among €1.4m cannabis plants has jail sentence cut on appeal

(Stock image)
(Stock image)

Ruaidhrí Giblin

A Vietnamese man “found asleep” among cannabis plants in Tralee potentially worth €1.4 million, has had his prison sentence cut on appeal.

Cao Son Nguyen (30), of no fixed abode, had pleaded guilty to cultivation as well as possession of cannabis for sale or supply at a unit in the Clash Industrial Estate, Tralee Co, Kerry on October 21, 2013.

He was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment with the final four suspended by Judge Tom E O'Donnell at Tralee Circuit Criminal Court.

Nguyen successfully appealed his sentence today and was accordingly resentenced to seven-and-a-half years imprisonment with the final three suspended.

Counsel for Nguyen, Philip Sheahan SC, told the Court of Appeal that it was akin to a growhouse case and unusual for the DPP to have charged his client with a sale or supply offence in that context.

Mr Sheahan said his client, who slept beside a toilet in the unit, was found asleep among the plants.

Giving judgment in the Court of Appeal, Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan said the fact that the sale or supply offence occurred in the context of a “growhouse operation” did not in any way diminish the offending behaviour.

The court heard that some of the plants had reached maturity.

He said the court saw merit in submissions by Nguyen's barrister, Mr Sheahan SC, that the sentencing judge placed the offence on too high a point on the scale of available penalties and didn't sufficiently differentiate between Nguyen and his co-accused.

Mr Justice Sheehan, who sat with Mr Justice George Birmingham and Mr Justice John Edwards, said the appropriate sentence was seven-and-a-half years with the final three suspended.

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