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drugs charge Man who was paid €1,000 a month to live in cannabis grow house is jailed

Sarunas Lubenskas initially told gardaí he “did not know” that cannabis plants were outlawed

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A man who was paid up to €1,000 a month to live in a house used to grow cannabis has been jailed for three years.

Sarunas Lubenskas (31), of Carlingford Road, Drumcondra, Dublin 9, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to one count related to the cultivation of cannabis, following a search of his residence on 13 May, 2018.

Garda Ciaran Cummings told John Berry BL, prosecuting, that on the date in question, gardaí approached Lubenskas’ residence following reports of a public order offence involving the defendant.

Gda Cummings said that when Lubenskas opened the door to gardaí, he was intoxicated and aggressive, and that there was an “overpowering” smell of cannabis coming from inside the residence.

A warrant was secured and gardaí searched Lubenskas’ home where they discovered that all but one of the rooms in the house were being used to grow cannabis.

The value of the cannabis plants found on the premises was estimated to be approximately €100,000.

Gda Cummings noted that the grow-house was not an “amateur” operation, and that the property had not been flagged to gardaí before.

Following his arrest, Lubenskas, who worked casually as a labourer prior to his arrest, told gardaí that he was not responsible for the drugs in the house, and that he did not know who ran the operation at Carlingford Road.

Lubenskas, a Lithuanian national, initially told gardaí in an interview that he “did not know” that cannabis plants were outlawed.

Gda Cummings told the court that following the interview, gardaí were satisfied Lubenskas knew there was something “suspicious” about the arrangement, and that he effectively worked as a “gardener” in the house.

Judge Pauline Codd, handing down sentencing today, said that “a message needs to be sent out” to deter those with no ties to the jurisdiction getting involved in the drugs trade in Ireland.

Judge Codd cited mitigating factors, including an early plea, the defendant’s lack of family ties in the country, and his personal situation, before sentencing.

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She sentenced Lubsenskas to four years imprisonment, but suspended the final year of the sentence on strict conditions.

Judge Codd also ordered Lubenskas to leave the State within 28 days of his release from prison.

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