A POLISH national who acted as ‘the gardener’ in a cannabis plant grow house operation worth €348,000 was jailed for three years at last week’s sitting of Castlebar Circuit Criminal Court.
Andrzej Mysza (56) of Puntabeg, Charlestown, pleaded guilty to the cultivation of 435 cannabis plants which were growing in rented property at Puntabeg, Charlestown. The plants were being grown in rooms in the house and in an agricultural shed at the rear of the property and were at various stages of growth.
The cannabis operation was described as ‘sophisticated’ with lights and fans to maximise growths and the electricity supply by-passing the meter. The plants were at various stages of growth and in total the potential street value of the product was €348,000.
Detective Garda Sinéad Caheny of the Garda Drugs Unit in Mayo said that Mr Mysza was not known to gardaí at the time and he was described as ‘the gardener’ who was getting paid €1,200 a month to look after the plants.
Mr Diarmuid Connolly, defence counsel for Mr Mysza, explained that his client was a Polish national who was offered the job by fellow Polish nationals in the UK. He said there was a certain naivety on his part in that he was not fully aware of the ‘peril’ he was in for a relatively small amount of money, and added that he had been ‘stiffed’ out of two months pay.
However, Judge Rory McCabe said that Mr Mysza was in it for the money and while his role as ‘a gardener’ was at the low end of the chain of command, it was an essential cog in the operation.
Det Garda Caheny had earlier told the court that gardaí received confidential information that a Polish man was growing cannabis plants in a rented house in Puntabeg, Charlestown. The house was surveyed and a search warrant was obtained on December 15, 2018.
The garda drug unit called to the door at 9.30pm and when Mr Mysza opened the door, Det Garda Caheny said they got a strong smell of cannabis. A large volume of plants were found on the property and the court heard that 41 plants which were budding and worth €32,800 were found in a bedroom. There was also evidence the plants had been harvested in another room.
A large agricultural shed which was padlocked was also searched and it was found to be divided into four smaller sheds. In one shed there was 93 plants with three trays of cutting and these were worth €187,2000, in another there was 80 plants worth €64,000 and another shed had plants which were 12 to 17 inches in height and worth €64,000.
Mr Connolly said his client had poor English and he was not sure who his employees were. He said he has been in custody since December and had bought a one-way ticket to Poland to show that he intended to return to Poland after the court proceedings were complete and not to return. He asked Judge McCabe to be lenient in the circumstance.
Judge McCabe noted Mr Mysza’s intention to return to his home country and not return but felt that in the interests of justice he must invoke a custodial sentence to act as a deterrent to other people. He sentenced him to four years imprisonment with the final year suspended for three years. He also granted a destruction order for the cannabis plants.