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Man arrested after police find 110 cannabis plants in house bailed despite co-defendant absconding

The court was told of concerns the 31-year-old was part of an 'organised crime gang given the sophistication of the enterprise and the amounts involved'

Craigavon-Courthouse

A man who was arrested after officers found 110 cannabis plants in his home has been granted bail despite police revealing his co-defendant had since absconded.

A detective constable told court there were concerns that the 31-year-old was part of an “organised crime gang given the sophistication of the enterprise and the amounts involved”.

Modestas Vireikis, of Broomhill in Portadown, did not appear as his case was listed for an opposed bail application at Craigavon Magistrates’, sitting at Lisburn, on Friday.

The accused is charged with possession of Class B, possession of Class B with intent to supply, cultivating cannabis, preventing a meter from registering electricity and being concerned in the supply of Class B.

It was outlined by a detective constable, how on February 21 police conducted a search on foot of a warrant of an address on Broomhill in Portadown.

During this, officers recovered 110 cannabis plants, with a value estimated at £60,000, of varying stages of development from three bedrooms at the property.

Present at the address at the time of the search was this defendant and another co-accused, and both were subsequently arrested.

During interview, Vireikis made full admissions stating that the whole enterprise was his doing and that the cannabis was for personal use.

The co-accused denied any knowledge of the plants and claimed that he had only been at the property to visit his friend.

The detective constable revealed that the co-accused, who had been released on High Court bail, had since absconded and that he has been alerted as wanted.

Outlining objections, he said: “There is a flight risk, this concern is found in that fact that he is a Lithuanian national and that there is a large amount of drugs involved.

“There is also a concern that he is part of an organised crime gang given the sophistication of the enterprise and the amounts involved.”

The detective constable also commented that these offences were alleged to have been committed whilst Vireikis was on bail for theft and driving matters.

Defence barrister Stephen Toal stated: “It is accepted that he made certain admissions during interview. This defendant has now served the equivalent of a 14 month sentence.

“This is possibly going to the Crown Court. Sentences which are currently being handed down in the Crown Court are unrecognisable to those seen pre-March.”

He added that there was “no evidence” of his client being involved in an “organised criminal gang” and he submitted that Vireikis had ties to this jurisdiction with both employment and a seven-year-old child here.

Mr Toal stated: “I believe that we have met a substantial tipping point and I submit that this man is a suitable candidate for bail.”

District Judge Michael Ranaghan said: “Clearly the difficulty in this case is that the other accused has since disappeared.

“However, this has come to me and I don’t see the point in refusing it for the High Court to deal with as is will only add to further delay.”

He added: “His record is not that bad, but I am concerned about the organised crime link as these people do not work in a vacuum and this is often a supply chain.”

Vireikis was released on his own bail of £250, with conditions including; to reside at an address on Sloan Street in Dungannon, to report to police once a week, a surety of £500, to surrender his passport, an electronic tag, along with a curfew between 8pm and 8am.

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