A sophisticated extraction system was used to stop any smell coming from a £500,000 cannabis factory above a Chinese restaurant, the High Court heard yesterday.
Equipment costing £20,000 had been installed in eight upstairs rooms at the premises in Greyabbey, prosecutors said. Police who searched the premises also found a Vietnamese woman who claimed she had been befriended by an older man she referred to as “uncle”.
Details of last month’s raid were disclosed as bail was refused to the restaurant owner.
Phat Suong Chim, 48, of Main Street in the village, denies cultivating cannabis and possession with intent to supply. He claims to have rented out the rooms where the drugs were found without knowledge of what was going on.
Officers uncovered the growing operation after forcing their way into quarters above the New White Satin restaurant on August 23.
Plants at various stages of growth with an estimated value of between £350,000 and £500,000 were seized.
Prosecution barrister Conor Maguire said: “When police initially entered the downstairs of the premises you would not have known from the smell there was anything untoward.
“That’s contrary to the experiences of police and is the result of this sophisticated extraction system.”
Electricity bypass methods were also in place, with the court told that a supplier is owed around £10,000.
Chim told detectives he had bought the restaurant in May, paying £18,000 for the goodwill and leasehold.
Mr Maguire said the Vietnamese woman told police she had been brought to the Province by a man she didn’t know.
A defence lawyer argued that Chim had no access to the rooms above the restaurant after his tenant changed the locks. Bail was refused.