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Dad who set up cannabis growhouse to pay legal fees and spend time with family jailed

Judge Crowe described Thomas Munnelly (53) as an educated man with “talent and ingenuity” and a self-starter.

Cannabis grow house set up by Thomas Munnelly Picture taken during garda raid at Dean Hill, Navan, Co. Meath, on October 23, 2020

Alan SherrySunday World

This is the sophisticated cannabis grow house operation set up by a middle-aged dad who went rogue to help pay fees in a legal case and have more time for his family.

Thomas Munnelly (53) hadn’t previously been on the radar of gardai when he became Meath’s version of Walter White from the US TV series Breaking Bad and started his own drugs operation to raise money.

He did everything from setting up the grow house and cultivating the cannabis to selling it to customers in the Meath and Louth area for more than two years without detection.

However, he was rumbled when gardai received information which led to them raiding his father’s home in Co Meath on October 23, 2020.

Munnelly, of Rathfeigh, Tara, had been living with his elderly father in a cottage in Dean Hill, Hayestown, at the time of the garda operation following the breakdown of a relationship. Trim Circuit Court heard Munnelly was caught “red-handed” when officers raided the home and that his father had nothing to do with the operation.

“He [Munnelly] came down from the attic holding garden shears and there was a significant smell of cannabis,” Judge Orla Crowe said at his sentence hearing.

Gardai found a sophisticated grow house operation divided into three sections.

One section had nursery plants, the other had plants at an advanced stage and the third was for storing items used in the process.

He had a dryer machine used to evenly dry the cannabis after he had cultivated it, as well as growth promotion liquid, ventilation and specialist lights used in the process.

Gardai seized 143 plants and cultivated cannabis with a combined value of €142,000. They also seized €9,000 in cash, which was the proceeds of drugs, and a small quantity of cocaine.

The court heard Munnelly said he set up the operation to make money for legal fees in non-criminal case and so he could spend more time with his family.

Judge Crowe described Munnelly as an educated man with “talent and ingenuity” and a self-starter.

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