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Cannabis grower 'didn't want to deal with scumbags'

A man who grew his own cannabis so he didn't have to deal with "scumbags" escaped jail yesterday when he was given 180 hours of community service.

Gerard Batten (35) of Broadfield Heath in Rathcoole pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to cultivating 25 cannabis plants at his home on September 19, 2008.

Garda Ronan O'Malley said he carried out a search of Batten's house and found 11 cannabis plants in the bathroom and a further 14 in a wardrobe.

Unemployed Batten, who has a significant drug habit, admitted he set up the equipment in order to grow the plants.

"He admitted the cannabis plants, which are valued at ?400 each, were for his own use," said Gda O'Malley.

He said the reason he started to grow the cannabis plants was because "someone informed" him how to cultivate them.

"I smoke it and I didn't want to be dealing with scumbags," said Batten, who has no previous convictions.

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Judge Tony Hunt imposed the community service order in lieu of a prison sentence on the basis that Batten was at low risk of reoffending and he accepted he had not been selling the drugs.

He ordered the confiscation and destruction of the items.

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