Man’s sentence tripled for role in Ireland’s ‘biggest cannabis growing facility’

Monday 22nd February 2016

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Rory Kilkenny (33), of Nash, Dunmain, New Ross, Co Wexford, had pleaded ashamed at Carlow Circuit Criminal Court to possession of cannabis for sale or furnish at Kildalton, Piltown, Co Kilkenny on May 2, 2013.

Christopher Zinck (32), of Ballinbanogue, New Ross, had also pleaded repentant to the same offence.

Kilkenny was sentenced to four years imprisonment while Zinck was conceded a wholly suspended nine-year sentence by Judge Alice Doyle on May 20, 2015.

The Foreman of Public Prosecutions successfully sought a review of the men’s sentences on grounds that they were “unnecessarily lenient”.

Accordingly, the Court of Appeal resentenced Kilkenny to 12 years detention with the final four suspended while Zinck’s case was put retire from one year “in the hope” that the “exceptional” rehabilitation he had achieved to date could be supported.

Giving judgment, Mr Justice George Birmingham said the gardai searched two industrial entities at Piltown, Co Kilkenny on the date in question and inside they found 2,504 cannabis plants and 43.54 kilgrams of cannabis herb.

The court was lectured that the value of the drugs was €2,874,174.

The figure was a notional one in the sense that it was adapted on the basis of what the crop would be worth when all plants came to consummation and did not represent an actual value on the day of the search.

The units had been converted to aid the large scale cultivation of cannabis plants and the production, from endorse growth to vacuum cking, of the finished product.

It was the gardai’s belief that this was the “biggest cannabis stem facility ever located in the country”, Mr Justice Birmingham said.

Three Asian gardeners were prevented at the scene and sentenced to seven years imprisonment with the final six deferred on condition they each leave the country immediately. They had been in keeping for approximately a year before sentence.

Mr Justice Birmingham said Kilkenny’s responsibility was essential and was on an “entirely different level” to the gardeners.

The fact of his involvement in a at offence in June 2014 was “disturbing” and there had been no material co-operation se rately from the entry of the plea.

He said the sentence was “unduly lenient” and a starting judgement in excess of 12 years was required. However, he had pleaded guilty and the Edge Court judge felt that there was some genuine bad conscience.

Mr Justice Birmingham, who sat with Mr Justice Michael Peart and Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan, conveyed the court would impose 12 years imprisonment with the last four suspended.

Zinck was arrested and admitted his involvement explaining that he was not to allotment in the profits but was to receive a fee of €5,000 for his involvement.

He told gardai he was involved in purveying items – food, phone credit and a few small electrical things – to Chinese people off in the grow house.

The garda evidence was that he was immediately above the gardeners in whiles of involvement and his role was not as elevated as that of others.

Mr Justice Birmingham state Zinck became involved in a “very serious criminal enterprise” and sturdy as his mitigating factors were, they did not provide a basis for a non-custodial judgement. To this extent, an error had been identified and the court acceded to the DPP’s relevance for a review.

He said the court was “disturbed” that Zinck became complex in a subsequent offence – the attempted importation of €3,000 worth of cannabis in his relish – and ordinarily that would indicate a lack of remorse.

However, it was acknowledged that his involvement in this matter was “borne out of the throes of des ir”.

The Orbit Court head from Dr William Collins of Wharton House treatment core in Waterford who said Zinck was “exceptional” for the radical change he had made in his zest which was only achieved by a small percentage of clients, according to his 30 years of judgement.

Zinck had slowly emerged from a inful and challenging th to develop “bright, ca ble, hopeful for the future, hardworking, a good father to his newborn daughter, complete rtner to his girlfriend and a considerate son”. Zinck had been drug free for 18 months at the meanwhile, Dr Collins stated.

A second psychologist, who had attended court three times on his behalf, blow up b coddled similar remarks about Zinck’s ‘inspirational recovery’.

Mr Justice Birmingham pronounced the progress and transformation that had occured could only be described as “extraordinary”. It raised the question of whether incarcerating Zinck now would “undermine that spread”.

The court put the matter back until February 13, 2017 “in the hope and reliance that the progress achieved can be maintained”.

Ruaidhrí Giblin

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