PORT OF SPAIN –– A 22-year-old university dropout was released on $150,000 bail after appearing in court yesterday in relation to a raid on an indoor marijuana-growing farm in an apartment near the University of the West Indies’ (UWI) St Augustine Campus last week.
Matthew Soo-Chan, of San Diego Park, Diego Martin, was not called upon to plead to marijuana cultivation and trafficking charges when he appeared before Senior Magistrate Gillian David-Scotland in the Tunapuna First Court yesterday.
Moments after ratifying his bail bond at the Tunapuna Administrative Complex, Soo-Chan, hidden under a customized hoodie, walked out in the company of his relatives.
There was reportedly a scuffle between a male relative and media personnel, who attempted to capture his photo. The exchange resulted in one photographer suffering a gash to his forearm and another’s camera being destroyed.
The parties were eventually restrained before the altercation managed to erupt into a full-scale brawl.
The incident has since been reported to Tunapuna Police who are continuing investigations.
Soo-Chan, a former business and information technology student, was arrested in an apartment at Old Tim Street, St Augustine, hours after the police allegedly found an illegal farm at another apartment one street away last Thursday.
Police made the first raid around 7 a.m. on Thursday when they searched an apartment at Bedessie Street. When they entered they found the furniture had been removed and replaced with LED lamps and plant pots containing high grade marijuana plants.
An industrial air purification unit was being used to conceal the smell produced by the flowering plants.
The plants and the growing equipment were brought to court for Soo-Chan’s court appearance.
In his application for bail his lawyer Larry Williams raised concerns about the evidence against his client as police prosecutors initially said 70 marijuana plants were seized but added 24 more to the figure when the seized items were checked by David-Scotland.
Williams also noted that Soo-Chan had a clean criminal record and had recently enrolled in a programme at the T&T Hospitality and Tourism Institute (TTHTI) to fulfil his dream of becoming a chef. Soo-Chan will reappear in court on February 13.