A Lithuanian man accused of growing cannabis is just an unlucky tourist, according to his defence.
While 23-year-old Evaldas Tervilys claims he was in Armagh visiting an old school friend when the police raided the house at Woodford Green, the police alleged he was involved in helping to grow and nurture the 200 cannabis plants cops uncovered in the property.
Sitting side by side in a room in Banbridge police station, Lithuanian nationals Tervilys and his friend Arminas Uzga, also 23, appeared at court by videolink where each of them confirmed they understood the charges against them.
Tervilys, with an address at Hoofddorp in Holland and Uzga, with an address at the alleged Woodford Green cannabis factory in Armagh, were jointly charged at Newry Magistrates Court on five offences.
They are accused of cultivating cannabis, producing a class B drug, simple possession, possession with intent to supply cannabis and dishonestly using a quantity of electricity on September 28 this year.
Uzga was also charged with the same five offences in relation to an alleged cannabis factory uncovered on the Shore Road in Annalong, Co Down on April 11.
Giving evidence during a contested bail application for Tervilys on Wednesday, a detective constable Glenn told the court how 100 mature plants and 100 saplings were uncovered at Uzga’s home with reports that the haul is worth around £200,000.
“The property was later checked by NIE who found that the electricity supply had been tampered with,” said the officer, adding that both men were arrested inside the property and had a “look of surprise” when cops raided it.
During interview Tervilys claimed Uzga was an old school friend who he kept in contact with, claiming that when he told his mate he had annual leave to take from his warehouse job, he suggested he come to visit Northern Ireland, He flew over at the weekend and was due to return to Holland on October 6.
Objecting to bail, the officer said police feared that with no ties to the jurisdiction Tervilys would abscond and not return.
Defence solicitor Ruari Gillen suggested the defendant had “gone to great lengths” to prove he was a tourist, showing them photographs of the places he had visited since his arrival and had even logged into his Ryanair account to prove his travel plans but the detective said he was still awaiting official confirmation.
The solicitor said Tervilys did not realise he was being invited to stay in a “grow house” and when he realised what it was, “he didn’t really know what to do.”
“In an ideal world he would’ve notified the police or simply left the property,” said Mr Gillen who conceded that Tervilys faces “an unfortunate situation.”
District Judge Eamon King said he was refusing bail on the grounds of the risk of flight and interference with the investigation and adjourned Tervilys’ case to October 26 as well.