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Supplementary business Ex-crisps company boss grew 39 cannabis plants as ‘experiment’ to make nutritional food supplements, court hears

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Anthony Keogh (64), of Newtown Lane, Oldtown, Co Dublin, pictured leaving the Criminal Courts of Justice. Photo: Collins Courts

Anthony Keogh (64), of Newtown Lane, Oldtown, Co Dublin, pictured leaving the Criminal Courts of Justice. Photo: Collins Courts

Anthony Keogh (64), of Newtown Lane, Oldtown, Co Dublin, pictured leaving the Criminal Courts of Justice. Photo: Collins Courts

A FORMER crisps company director grew 39 cannabis plants to make nutritional food supplements as part of a “foolhardy” horticultural experiment, a court has heard.

Anthony Keogh (64), of Newtown Lane, Oldtown, Co Dublin, was arrested on July 9 last year.

Horticulture expert and farmer, Mr Keogh, a former director and founder of Keogh’s Crisps, was initially charged with cultivation of cannabis, unlawful possession of the drug and having it for the purpose of sale or supply. The offences are under the Misuse of Drugs Act.

Gardaí originally estimated the value of ­cannabis plants to be €19,500, but that was revised downward to €7,800, Dublin District Court was told today.

The drug supply charge was withdrawn last month.

The Director of Public Prosecutions directed summary disposal on a guilty plea only.

Defence solicitor Tony Collier told Judge Treasa Kelly that there was a guilty plea subject to the district court accepting jurisdiction. However, she held that the case was too serious, and that it should be sent forward to the circuit court which has wider sentencing powers.

Outlining the evidence, Garda Olan Keating, of the Dublin North Crime Taskforce, told Judge Kelly that gardaí arrived with a warrant and searched Keogh’s greenhouse at Newtown Lane.

There were 39 plants inside and Keogh then arrived and identified himself. He made admissions to gardaí stating the plants were cannabis. He was arrested and taken to Ballymun garda station.

Analysis confirmed the plants were cannabis and the value was now estimated to be €7,800, the court heard.

Gda Keating agreed with Mr Collier that it was not the case the plants were cultivated for the illegal drug trade.

The garda confirmed Mr Keogh was a horticulture expert and a farmer who had maintained he grew the cannabis plants as an experiment, and “they grew better than expected”.

“It did not have the hallmarks of being part of a wider criminal enterprise,” Gda Keating said.

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The greenhouse was not well concealed and was located on the corner of a local and a main road, the court heard.

Mr Keogh has no prior criminal convictions.

Pleading for jurisdiction to be accepted, Mr Collier submitted that the case was unique.

Mr Keogh, a farmer since the age of 15, bought hemp seeds lawfully, he said.

The hemp industry is getting bigger but growing it is restricted and requires a licence from the Government. However, Mr Keogh, who did not have a licence, “jumped ahead” and grew the plants as nutritional food supplements.

It was foolhardy and showed poor judgment, the solicitor said.

He and his family had set up brands including a crisp company that supported the local community and contributed nationally, the court heard.

The garda was satisfied the plants were not going to work their way into the drug supply, Mr Collier submitted, as he pleaded with the judge to deal with the case at district level.

Judge Kelly noted the submissions, but she said it was a significant endeavour and in view of the valuation she refused jurisdiction.

Mr Keogh was remanded on continuing bail to appear again on July 2 next to be served with a book of evidence.

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