Three Dublin men who admitted watering plants in a cannabis growhouse have avoided a custodial sentence after a judge accepted that their roles had been at the lower end of the scale of criminality.
Taxi driver and father-of-three Mark Clooney (40) pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to cultivating cannabis on Commons Road, Clondalkin on July 24, 2013.
Brothers Wayne (32) and Jason (33) Burgess, both unemployed plumbers with an address at Harelawn Crescent, Clondalkin, pleaded guilty to the same offence.
The court heard gardai arrived at the scene to find a fully-operational growhouse containing 77 cannabis plants valued at €61,600.
Defence barrister Luigi Rea BL said that this type of offending was more usually associated with "unfortunate refugees from Cambodia and Vietnam".
Judge Karen O'Connor sentenced Clooney and Jason Burgess to two years in prison, but suspended it in full on condition that they keep the peace for two years. She sentenced Wayne Burgess to 20 months fully suspended.
Judge O'Connor said she accepted Wayne Burgess had not realised the nature of the work he had been asked to do until he arrived at the growhouse.
She also accepted his evidence to gardai that he had been threatened with having "his legs broken" if he didn't agree to do the cultivation work.
Judge O'Connor also accepted that Jason Burgess had invested his life-savings in setting up his own plumbing business only to go bust and lose it all some years later.
Detective Garda John Delaney told the court all three accused were at the house when gardai arrived with a search warrant, acting on foot of a tip-off.
They found a large sealed cultivation tent in the sitting room with reflective material on the inside to help plant growth.
They also found 27 cannabis cuttings, 29 seedlings and 27 mature plants, with a potential value of €800 for each fully grown plant.