Bail for restaurateur accused of operating cannabis factory
A restaurant boss accused of operating a £350,000 cannabis factory above his premises is to be released from custody, a High Court judge ruled.
Mr Justice Weatherup granted bail to Phat Suong Chim based on the time being taken to deal with his case.
Noting the accused has already spent nine months behind bars, the judge said there was no chance of a trial being held before Christmas.
Chim (46) was arrested after police uncovered a large-scale drug-growing operation in rooms above his New White Satin restaurant in Greyabbey, Co Down, last August.
A woman found in the upstairs flat and a chef were also detained and charged.
Plants at various stages of growth and with an estimated street value of £350,000 were seized in the raid.
There was a sophisticated fan system to deal with the smell.
Chim, with an address at Main Street, Greyabbey, but who has lived in Birmingham for 25 years, denies charges of cultivating cannabis and possession with intent to supply.
His lawyers argued that he knew nothing about what was going on in the upstairs rooms he rented out.
Although he is allegedly linked by mobile phone traffic, defence counsel Richard McConkey insisted there is no forensic evidence against his client.
Chim was granted bail to live in Birmingham and ordered to surrender his passport.