Cannabis grown at Chinese restaurant

Antrim Court House. INAT51-435AC
Antrim Court House. INAT51-435AC

A Chinese restaurant manager has admitted allowing cannabis to be grown in his restaurant.

The Antrim Crown Court trial of 55-year-old Wan Hon-Fai had started on Monday but on Tuesday, defence QC Neil Connor asked for the charge to be put to him again.

It was then that Hon-Fai pleaded guilty to allowing cannabis to be grown at the Water Margin Chinese restaurant on the Cullybackey Road in Ballymena over a four year time span on dates between January 1, 2010 and when the factory was uncovered by cops on February 20 last year.

The court heard that uniformed officers on foot patrol smelled a “strong aroma” of cannabis and had simply followed their noses on the trail which led to the restaurant.

When it was searched, it was discovered that the middle floor of the business premises had been converted into a cannabis factory with between 500-600 plants at “various stages of maturity.”

Previous courts had heard that the haul was worth upwards of £150,000.

Following Hon-Fai’s 11th hour admission today (tues), trial Judge Des Marrinan ordered the jury to find him “guilty by confession” and adjourned passing sentence to allow probation to compile a presentence report.

Hon-Fai, with a different address on the Cullybackey Road, was granted continuing bail and will be sentenced on 28 April.