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Jail for Craigavon man who threw cannabis over fence when police called at house

Whilst accepting the "very high quantity of drugs" found, the defence stated that there was no evidence "over and above the drugs" of an intent to supply

Craigavon Magistrates Court

A Craigavon man who was in possession of cannabis with the intent to supply has been sentenced to four months in prison.

Christopher Cunningham, (40), of Legahory Court, appeared before Craigavon Magistrates’ Court charged with possession of a Class B drug and possession of a Class B drug with intent to supply.

The prosecution explained that on February 8, 2022, police attended the home address of the defendant to speak with him regarding his alleged ownership of a property where there had been suspected cannabis cultivation.

Police were invited into the property by the defendant and, whilst inside, they noticed a strong smell of cannabis, despite wearing fluid repellent masks.

Police queried the smell and the defendant denied having or smoking cannabis in the house.

A short time later, whilst in the back yard of the property, police believed the defendant to have thrown something over the fence. When they looked over they discovered two clear plastic bags, which appeared to contain a “large quantity” of herbal cannabis.

The defendant was arrested and transferred to Banbridge custody suite. He was interviewed in relation to the matter and made ‘no comment’ answers to the interview.

The court was told that the potential value of the cannabis seized by police was between £1,200 and £1,800, with a destruction order being sought.

A defence solicitor told the court that although no charges had been brought in relation to criminality at the other property, the “downfall” of the defendant was that he had made a no comment interview, with adverse inferences being drawn from this.

The defence argued that the defendant, who had contested the intent to supply charge, had found cannabis at a property when clearing it out following a police raid.

He then was said to have taken it home to keep for himself, being someone said to suffer from “long-standing difficulties” with cannabis.

The defence said: “Certainly if he had made that case in interview, it may be a case that he would have simply been prosecuted for the simple possession which he readily accepts. He does, however, still contest the intent to supply element of it.”

Whilst accepting the “very high quantity of drugs” found, the defence stated that there was no evidence “over and above the drugs” of an intent to supply.

District Judge Bernie Kelly said: “Possession with intent to supply is a serious offence. All the elements of intent to supply were there…. You come to court to give me an explanation for why you had it, but you chose not to tell police that. You can’t do that.

“If you have an explanation, you have to tell the police, you cannot maintain a no comment interview. The court is entitled to draw an adverse inference.”

Giving the defendant no credit as he was convicted, District Judge Kelly imposed a sentence of four months in custody for the possession with intent to supply charge and two months in custody for the simple possession charge, with both sentences to run concurrently.

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