Cannabis factory accused found guilty at jury trial

Laganside Courts, Chichester Street, Belfast. Picture: Diane Magill
Laganside Courts, Chichester Street, Belfast. Picture: Diane Magill

An east Belfast man has been remanded into custody after he was convicted on a drugs charge linked to a cannabis factory.

A jury of six men and six women took less than an hour to find Macauley George McKinney guilty of being concerned in the supply of the class B drug cannabis.

In a trial which lasted just one day, a Crown prosecutor told the jury that the 22-year old’s fingerprints were found on plant pots and heat lamps in the attic of a house where cannabis plants were being grown.

Prosecutor Kate McKay said police searched a house in the Roseberry Road area of Belfast on December 30, 2016 under the Misuse of Drugs Act.

The female occupant was in hospital at the time of the search, which was prompted after her mother called police to alert them to the smell of cannabis.

During the search, officers found 10 pots containing cannabis plants in the attic of the property, along with heat lamps and plant nutrients which the Crown cited as “equipment for the cultivation of cannabis”.

Ms McKay said that when the items were forensically tested, McKinney’s fingerprints were located on five plant pots and two heat lamps taken from the attic.

From Roslyn Street in Belfast, McKinney voluntarily attended with police in June 2017, when he gave a ‘no comment’ response to all the questions he was asked.

He also failed to give evidence during the day-long trial, and was convicted in less than an hour of the drugs offence.

The female occupant of Roseberry Street at the time of the search – Rachel Taylor, 22 – has already pleaded guilty to a charge of allowing her premises to be used for the prosecution of cannabis.

She will be sentenced alongside McKinney at Belfast Crown Court on December 20.

McKinney was remanded into custody ahead of next month’s sentencing.