A CHARLESTOWN resident who amassed a €350,000 fortune through trading Bitcoin blew it all on drugs and prostitutes in Spain, a sitting of Castlebar Circuit Criminal Court has heard.
Lithuanian national Lucas Papinigis, with an address of 38 Kilbeagh Village, Charlestown, received a four-year prison sentence after he pleaded guilty to the cultivation of cannabis plants worth €62,400 at his residence in Charlestown.
Detective Garda Seán Ryan told the court that members of the Mayo Divisional Drug Unit searched the house on February 14 last and discovered 78 cannabis plants in total. The plants were found in two rooms and Mr Papinigis (27) was the ‘gardener’ paid to look after the plants before they were ready for harvesting.
The court heard that Mr Papinigis grew up in a life of crime in his homeland and lost his father, who was described as a criminal, when he was six years old. Despite this, Mr Papinigis, who was described as ‘intelligent’, studied Robotic Science before dropping out of education after getting involved in drugs.
Mr Diarmuid Connolly, counsel for Mr Papinigis, said he started trading in Bitcoin when he was only eleven and amassed €350,000 from it but blew it in six months on drugs and prostitutes.
Detective Ryan agreed that he was very co-operative when arrested and stated he was delivered to the house in Charlestown and everything was in the house when he arrived.
He said that he was poorly paid for what the drugs would be worth when harvested and that it would be another four to six weeks after detection before the plants would have been ready. Detective Garda Ryan said Mr Papinigis was sentenced to ten months’ imprisonment in Norway for cultivating cannabis in June 2019.
Mr Connolly said that his client was exploited by people ‘higher up on the chain’ and that he was at the bottom rung of the enterprise. He said the people higher up carry none of the risk but all of the profit.
While accepting that Mr Papinigis was at the lower end of the chain, Judge Rory McCabe said that he was still an essential cog in the operation. He said that while the defendant was naive and manipulated he clearly knew what he was doing was illegal.
He sentenced Mr Papinigis to four years’ imprisonment but suspended the final 18 months for a period of five years. He said the message had to go out that regardless of what level you are in the drugs trade the law took a dim view of it. Judge McCabe backdated the sentence to February 14, the date Mr Papinigis was placed in custody.