Northern Ireland news

Man found with 31 cannabis plants at home said they were for 'personal use'

A MAN said 31 cannabis plants estimated by police to be worth £31,000 were for his own use, a court heard today.

Emil Zdunek (26), with an address at New Row in Coleraine, appeared at the town's Magistrates Court charged with cultivating cannabis and possessing the Class B drug.

A police officer said workers in the area on Thursday detected a strong smell of cannabis and when the PSNI arrived the smell was "over-powering".

Officers entered Zdunek's address which had blackout curtains and the defendant arrived and showed them a grinder and said he had cannabis in the building.

The police officer told the court 31 mature cannabis plants were growing which had an estimated street value of £31,000.

Other items found at the scene included grinders, scales and electronic equipment.

A prosecutor said they were not opposing bail but wanted conditions imposed.

The police officer said they believed the defendant to be a flight risk as he had no ties to Northern Ireland; he was unemployed and his home was "sparsely furnished".

The officer said the defendant indicated he was due to travel to Poland on Saturday April 27.

A defence lawyer said that during a police interview the defendant said the 31 plants were for his own personal use.

The lawyer said Zdunek had pre-booked a two week holiday to Poland.

He said the defendant had been living here for 18 months and had a clear record.

Deputy District Judge Laura Ievers released the defendant on £500 bail and ordered him to hand over his identity card, banned him from travelling to Poland as planned and ordered him to sign twice a week with police.

The case was adjourned to May 24.

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