A Belfast grandfather who was caught red-handed growing cannabis plants was handed a suspended prison sentence on Friday.
The 48-year old man’s offending came to light after police broke into his Forthriver Road home earlier this year due to concerns for his wellbeing.
Belfast Crown Court heard police called to Ernest Kane Crone Ian Irwin’s home on February 26 after he attended the Royal Victoria Hospital for a head injury but left without getting treatment.
Crown prosecutor Simon Jenkins said that after concerns were raised for Irwin’s welfare, police called to his home and forced entry. Once inside, officers noticed a strong smell of cannabis and when they checked a bedroom they found 19 semi-mature cannabis plants along with other drugs-related paraphrenalia including head lamps.
A further bag containing 26 grams of the Class B drug was found in the kitchen, while it also emerged that his electric meter had been tampered with.
As officers continued searching his house, officers checked his bedroom where he was lying on the bed. When he saw police, Irwin shouted “f*** off out of my house” before lunging at officers.
Police were forced to drawn their batons, and Irwin was handcuffed and taken into custody. He said durng interview that he was growing the plants for his own personal use, as he was addicted to cannabis.
When asked about his electricity meter, Irwin said it was like that when he moved in, and accepted he did nothing to fix it.
The father of four and grandfather of three subsequently admitted four charges including cultivating cannabis and assault on police.
A defence solictor spoke of his client’s addictions and re-affirmed the case that the cannabis was for Irwin’s personal use. He also said Irwin was aware of the seriousness of his offending.
Passing sentence, Judge Geoffrey Miller QC said the Belfast man was “in essence caught red-handed.” Handing Irwin a 12-month sentence, which was suspended for two years, Judge Miller also ordered that the drugs and associated paraphrenalia be destroyed.