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€450k cannabis uncovered in back garden, court told

A SELF-employed metalworker has appeared in court charged with growing cannabis in his back garden.

Stephen Fowler (51) was allegedly caught with €450,000 worth of the drug following a search of his premises at Blakestown.

The matter was adjourned for six weeks to allow Fowler to get a valuation of his family home from an auctioneer after gardai objected to him receiving free legal aid.

Gardai said they believe Fowler has the assets to pay for his own defence.

A court heard that Fowler has a holiday home in Turkey in addition to the family home at Blakestown. He has also built a 'granny' flat at the side of his house for his son and there is an industrial unit at the back of the property.

Martin Coen, defending, said Fowler ran a successful ironworks business, and once employed five people, but he had been badly hit by the recession, had let those people go, and was now struggling to pay himself and his son a wage.

The accused, of Blakestown Cottages, Clonsilla, appeared before Blanchardstown District Court charged with possession of cannabis herb as well as having the drug for sale or supply.

He is also charged with cultivating cannabis plants without a licence and to production of a controlled drug on his land on dates between June 1, 2009, and June 8, 2009.

The alleged street value of the cannabis herb is €450,000.

The matter was adjourned for six weeks.