The former CEO of Keogh’s chips company pleads guilty to growing cannabis plants
A former CEO of Chips pleaded guilty to growing 39 cannabis plants that he claimed were supposed to be making dietary supplements as part of a “foolish” horticultural experiment.
Ntony Keogh, 64, of Newtown Lane, Oldtown, North County Dublin, was arrested on July 9th last year.
The horticultural expert and farmer, Mr Keogh, a former director of Keogh’s Crisps, was initially charged with growing cannabis, improperly possessing the drug, and selling or supplying it.
The offenses fall under the Substance Abuse Act.
Gardai originally estimated the value of the cannabis plants at 19,500 euros, but has been revised down to 7,800 euros, the Dublin District Court said yesterday.
The drug dispensing fee was withdrawn last month.
The district attorney’s director ordered the summary settlement based on an admission of guilt, but on May 17, Judge Treasa Kelly deemed the case too serious for the district court to be referred to the district court.
Six weeks after this verdict, Mr. Keogh reappeared before the district court. His attorney Tony Collier presented a signed admission of guilt to the court on behalf of his client.
The judge then ordered Mr Keogh to be sent to the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court for trial on Friday.
Earlier, Garda Olan Keating of the Dublin North Crime Taskforce had told Judge Kelly that gardai had arrived with an arrest warrant and searched Mr Keogh’s greenhouse on Newtown Lane.
There were 39 plants inside, and then Mr. Keogh came and identified himself. He admitted to gardai that the plants were cannabis. He was arrested and taken to Ballymun Garda Railway Station.
The analysis confirmed that the plants were cannabis and the value has now been estimated at 7,800 euros, the court heard.
Garda Keating agreed with Mr. Collier that the crops were not grown for the illegal drug trade.
The Garda confirmed that Mr. Keogh was a horticultural expert and farmer who claimed he grew the cannabis plants as an experiment and “they grew better than expected”.
“It didn’t have the hallmarks of being part of a larger criminal enterprise,” said Garda Keating.
The greenhouse is not well hidden and is on the corner of a local street and a main street, according to the court.
Mr. Keogh has no criminal record.
Mr Collier advocated recognition of the jurisdiction, arguing that the case was unique.
Mr. Keogh, a farmer since he was 15, legally bought hemp seeds, he said.
The hemp industry is growing all the time, but its growth is limited and requires a government license. Mr. Keogh, who did not have a license, “jumped forward” and grew the plants as dietary supplements.
It was foolhardy and showed poor judgment, said the lawyer.
He and his family had started brands, including a crisp company that supported the local community and made national contributions, the court heard.
The Garda is satisfied that the plants are not going into the drug supply, said Mr Collier as he begged the judge to take the case to the district level.
Judge Kelly took note of the petitions but said it was a significant endeavor and declined jurisdiction given the assessment.