‘Gardeners’ in cannabis grow house worth €1.6m jailed for two years

Gardaí caught on man behind a false wall in a warehouse and another on the roof of shed

 

Two men who acted as “gardeners” in a cannabis grow house with a “theoretical” worth of €1.6 million have been sentenced to over two years in prison.

Gardaí­ caught Tham Nguyen (59) behind a purpose-built false wall in a warehouse and co-accused Thang Chinh Hoang (58) on the roof of one of the sheds.

Garda Joe McBride revealed that he and colleagues found €60,000 of cultivated cannabis and 2,065 plants at various stages of growth in the raid.

He said the plants would have had a maximum value of €1.6 million if they had all been fully mature, but that this was “purely theoretical” to give an idea of the scope of the enterprise.

Passing sentence at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on Thursday, Judge Karen O’Connor said it was a difficult case because of the vulnerability of both men whom she said had been “preyed upon” to take part in the operation.

Judge O’Connor accepted that the Vietnamese men were at the lowest rung of the ladder in terms of the drug operation, but said that as mature men they ought to have known better than to participate in the type of criminal activity that causes widespread destruction in society.

The judge said that although the men were “caught red-handed”, they deserved credit for their early plea and cooperation which has saved State resources and garda time.

She sentenced Hoang to two years and nine months in prison, and Nguyen to two years and six months, due to his significant health difficulties including cancer.

Gda McBride said though the grow house was one of the best set-ups he’d seen in ten years on the job, the electricity was “unprofessionally done” and was tripping out surrounding business premises.

He told Maurice Coffey BL, prosecuting, that the first thing gardaí­ had to do upon entering the building was call the ESB.

Father-of-four Nguyen and father-of-three Hoang, who had both been living in the grow house in an industrial estate at Belcamp Lane, Coolock, Dublin, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possessing and cultivating cannabis on January 24, 2017.

Hoang has no previous convictions, while Nguyen has one conviction for another cannabis offence.