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Man who said he grew cannabis after lockdown supply issues gets suspended sentence

'This is your third offence for drugs and this is very much further up the ladder. I do not believe for a moment that cannabis and other drugs were not freely available at this time'

Armagh Courthouse

A man who claimed that he grew cannabis plants in his home after encountering issues sourcing the substance over lockdown has been handed a suspended prison sentence.

Addressing the 26-year-old, the deputy district judge commented: “This is your third offence for drugs and this is very much further up the ladder. I do not believe for a moment that cannabis and other drugs were not freely available at this time.”

Jonathan McKinstry, of Pinley Green in Banbridge, appeared for sentencing on one count of cultivating cannabis at Armagh Magistrates’ Court, sitting at Newry, on Tuesday via videolink from his solicitor’s office.

Prosecution outlined that on June 2, at 4.32pm, police undertook a search of the defendant’s home on Glebe Hill Manor, Tandragee.

McKinstry was present at the address and five cannabis plants were located in the wardrobe of an upstairs bedroom under a heat lamp.

When questioned, the defendant admitted to growing the plants for his own personal use.

Defence barrister Gareth Downey stated that his client lived in Tandragee with his partner, who was due to give birth in February.

He said that McKinstry instructed that he had purchased the light and seeds in order to grow his own cannabis after finding it hard to source the substance over lockdown.

Mr Downey stated: “He fully regrets his actions….he first took cannabis at the age of 15, he has stopped quite a few times over the years and he wants to stop using before the birth of the child in February.”

Deputy District Judge Des Perry commented: “This is your third offence for drugs and this is very much further up the ladder. I do not believe for a moment that cannabis and other drugs were not freely available at this time.”

McKinstry was sentenced to four months in prison suspended for a period of 18 months.

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