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Man found with cannabis worth £31,000 in his home claimed it was for his own personal use

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A man said 31 cannabis plants estimated by police to be worth £31,000 were for his own use, a court heard on Friday.

Emil Zdunek (26), with an address at New Row in Coleraine, appeared at the town’s Magistrates Court charged with cultivating cannabis and possessing the Class B drug.

A police officer said workers in the area detected a strong smell of cannabis on Thursday and when the PSNI arrived the smell was “over-powering”.

Officers entered Zdunek’s address which had blackout curtains and the defendant arrived and showed them a grinder and said he had cannabis in the building.

The police officer told the court 31 mature cannabis plants were growing which had an estimated street value of £31,000.

Other items found at the scene included grinders, scales and electronic equipment. A prosecutor said they were not opposing bail but wanted conditions imposed.

The police officer said they believed the defendant to be a flight risk as he had no ties to Northern Ireland; he was unemployed and his home was “sparsely furnished”.

The officer said the defendant indicated he was due to travel to Poland on Saturday April 27.

Defence solicitor Sam Barr said that during a police interview the defendant said the 31 plants were for his own personal use. The lawyer said Zdunek had pre-booked a two week holiday to Poland.

Mr Barr said the defendant had been living here for 18 months and had a clear record. He said the defendant became unemployed a month ago but had not signed on for benefits.

Deputy District Judge Laura Ievers released the defendant on £500 bail to not travel to Poland on Saturday and instead reside at New Row and to sign twice a week with police.

Police will also retain the defendant’s identity card but the court was told he did not have a passport to hand in.

The case was adjourned to May 24.

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