Two men and a woman appeared before Donegal District Court charged with possession of cannabis herb worth €200,000 for sale and supply.
The three were arrested following a search of a grow house in Sligo on Saturday. They were charged on Sunday morning with alleged possession of cannabis herb and possession of the drug for sale or supply.
All three Polish nationals were remanded in custody after Judge Kevin Kilrane adjourned the bail hearing at Donegal Town on Monday.
Gardaí objected to bail because of the seriousness of the charges, given that there were 250 plants on the premises. Gardaí also believed the defendants to be a flight risk as two of them had no family in Ireland and no connection to the state. Magda Kowalska (34) of Seefin, Cloonloo, Boyle, Sligo was in possession of travel tickets for Poland in April. She was in a relationship with co-accused Marcin Florczak also of Seefin, Cloonloo, Boyle.
Detective Sergeant James Duffy told the court that Magda Kowalska and the third defendant Dawid Krzeminski of Lavelle House, Summerhill, Athlon were caught red-handed. He said they were in the grow house tendering to plants when gardaí arrived with the search warrant.
Marcin Florcza was in an adjoining house where seeds and other growing material was found. It was from this house that the electricity for the grow house was supplied.
€750 cash was seized from Florcza. A further €1,500 was seized from Kowalska.
Sergeant Duffy said that neither Florcza nor Kowalska had previous convictions in the state. He said gardaí were in the process of enquiring if they had any convictions in Poland.
However, the detective sergeant raised particular concerns about Dawid Krzeminski regarding whom he was liaising with Interpol.
“He was in possession of two different Polish identification documents,” he said. “We have a letter from Interpol that the name on one is correct but the picture is not of the person the document relates to. Enquiries are ongoing as to his identification.
“A false driving licence was also found.
“He maintained the name on the charge sheet while in custody.”
Sergeant Duffy said he had been in touch with a woman in Athlone with whom Krzeminski had a child. He said the woman gave a different name for the defendant.
The court heard from the Athlone woman’s mother who said she had known him for four or five years. She confirmed he had a young baby with her daughter. She said the family called the defendant ‘Paul’ because it was easier.
Judge Kevin Kilrane asked if there was a record of any of the defendants having received social welfare payments.
Sergeant Duffy said that enquiries were being made but because the arrests took place over the weekend, no information was available as yet.
Defence solicitor Gerry McGovern asked that the defendants be released on bail. He said they had all been co-operative and had made admissions in their statements to gardaí.
Judge Kilrane adjourned the bail hearing to Sligo District Court on Thursday. He asked that there be clarification on: whether the defendants had obtained social welfare payment; a history of social welfare payments for the last 12 months; a history of their residence in the state since their arrival, including names and address of landlords and landladies; the name and full details of the owner of the property in which the three were arrested, including a rent book for inspection; in whose name the electricity supply account was registered.
In respect of Krzeminski the judge also asked that his correct name and date of birth be established, and that the name and date of birth of his child be supplied.
Judge Kilrane said he would adjourn the legal aid application until Thursday when the relevant information was available.
Florcza and Krzeminski were remanded in custody to Castlerea prison.
Kowalska was remanded in custody to Mountjoy women’s prison.
Before the court sitting ended, Mr McGovern said that he had been informed that there was a large number of animals in the house.
“All creatures great and small, I’m told,” said the solicitor. “We don’t know what is going to happen them.”
Garda Christopher O’Neill told the court that there were 12 snakes, two lizards, a tarantula and a number of mice.
Judge Kilrane said: “We can’t let snakes interfere with the administration of justice.”
Superintendent Colm Nevin said the gardaí were finished inspecting the property. He suggested that the defendants could make arrangements for friends to take care of the animals.
Judge Kilrane agreed, asking that the ISPCA also be informed.
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