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Gambler grew drug to pay off his debts

A gambler who was forced to grow cannabis after building up an online poker debt has been jailed for five and a half years.

James Redmond (29) of Cromlech Court, Dane Road, Poppintree, Dublin, borrowed money from loan shark who later "sold" the loan to a criminal debt collector.

They then set off a bomb behind his house and posted bullets through his door when he couldn't pay.

Gardai accept that Redmond was in genuine fear and agreed to grow the cannabis to help pay off his debt.

He originally owed €3,000 but the debt collector kept increasing this amount and Redmond's father eventually had to use his pension lump sum of €30,000 to fully clear the debt.

At Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, Judge Mary Ellen Ring said there have been many "James Redmonds" who have come before the courts with similar stories.

She said deterrence was needed to prevent people becoming involved in such offences because "cultivation of cannabis plants is taking place all over this city and this country".

She imposed the five- and-a-half-year term and refused a defence application to suspend any portion of it.

Redmond is already serving a five-year term imposed in Waterford last year for stealing a tray of rings from a jewellers.

The court was told he also committed this crime as part payment for his debt.

Redmond pleaded guilty to cultivation of cannabis at Premier Square, Finglas, on May 2, 2012. He has nine previous convictions including one for drug dealing.

BULLETS

The court heard that a pipe bomb was set off behind Redmond's house when he couldn't pay off the rapidly growing debt.

While he was making a report in the garda station two bullets were put through his letter box and found by his mother.

He then agreed to help grow the cannabis. He rented an apartment and allowed others to set up a sophisticated growing operation complete with lights and ventilation systems.

Redmond was then responsible for watering the plants.

Gardai searched the house following a tip-off and found 80 plants valued at €64,000.

hnews@herald.ie


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