Charges withdrawn against Chinese man accused of operating £200k cannabis farm in Belfast
All charges have been withdrawn against a Chinese man who was accused of operating a £200,000 cannabis farm in Belfast.
Li Guang Liu is now set to be deported following the decision to halt his prosecution over the alleged drugs-growing racket.
The 50-year-old had been accused following a DNA match with a cigarette butt found near the factory uncovered in two adjoining houses at Broadway in the south of the city.
Police seized a total of 422 plants from the properties during a raid in June last year.
Liu, with an address at Hughenden Avenue in Belfast, faced charges of cultivating cannabis, possessing and conspiracy to supply Class B drugs, and dishonestly using electricity.
Last week Belfast Magistrates' Court was told more than £10,000 worth of electricity had been extracted.
A wall between the two houses had been knocked through, with cannabis located in both properties.
It was confirmed by police that the drugs seized have an estimated street value of £200,000.
Liu was interviewed and then charged following a forensic process carried out on the butt found at the scene.
Defence counsel Declan Quinn had challenged the evidence used to formally connect his client to the charges.
The barrister argued that when the cannabis was seized Liu had been in custody for up to five weeks on other matters.
He claimed the height of the evidence was a forensic link to a cigarette in one of the properties which must have been smoked at least a month before the cannabis was found.
Based on the date of the alleged crimes, he contended, the accused should be discharged.
It was also disclosed that Liu had been due for voluntary deportation back to China in August.
A second hearing earlier this week was due to decide if he could be granted bail.
But the Courts Service today confirmed that all charges were withdrawn at that stage.