Leader of 'church' who advocates using bleach as autism treatment busted for growing drugs

Sunday World, Ireland/October 30, 2016

By Patrick O'Connell

The self-proclaimed bishop of a 'church' that advocates the use of bleach in treating children with autism has claimed "they are God's plants" after being busted growing cannabis.

Gardaí discovered four cannabis plants and two unlicensed guns during an early morning raid on the country house of ‘Genisys II’ church bishop Patrick Merlehan in Newtown, Moone, Co. Kildare.

The 69-year-old preacher – whose church advocates the use of a bleach containing ‘Miracle Mineral Solution’ in treating children with autism – appeared before Athy District Court earlier this month charged with unlawful possession arising from a dawn raid on his home.

During the sitting, the controversial ‘bishop’ claimed to be eating the cannabis plants adding: “I wasn’t causing any harm to any man.”

Merlehan’s Genesis II Church, promotes its Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS) as a cure for all ailments, including cancer and autism.

The substance is, in fact, a 28 per cent concentrated solution of sodium chlorite, which, when mixed with water, becomes chlorine dioxide, a substance similar to bleach.

MMS has been banned in many countries and the USA’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says that “when used as directed” MMS produces “an industrial bleach that can cause serious harm to health”.

High oral doses of this bleach, such as those recommended in the product’s labelling, can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, and symptoms of severe dehydration, the FDA says.

The Genesis II church claims, however, that the substance can be used to cure everything, including cancer, malaria, depression and autism.

The church was initially set up by its Archbishop Jim Humble, a former gold prospector and member of the Church of Scientology.

He is also credited by the church with having discovered MMS.

Records show that Merlehan – who is a director of Ark Recycling in Newtown – charged €400 a pop to train people in the use of Miracle Mineral Solution in 2014.

Nine witnesses were present at Athy court on the day of Merlehan’s hearing on October 11, on charges relating to the discovery of the guns and cannabis plants at his address, ‘The Hamlet’ in Newtown.

Health Products Regulatory Authority enforcement officer Alan Smullen said he arrived with a search warrant at Mr Merlehan’s home on November 6, 2014, at 7.55am.

He told the court the search team knocked on the front door and Mr Merlehan opened an upstairs window and looked out.

He said they waited, but when he didn’t open the door reasonable force had to be used to get inside.

Mr Merlehan said he didn’t open the door as there are security issues in the countryside with farm houses.

Mr Smullen told the court that he didn’t want to prejudice a second case which is ongoing against the defendant, but they had received the warrant in relation to complaints about the manufacture of medicinal products.

Garda Seamus Muldowney, from Castledermot Garda Station, told the court that he participated in the search.

He said that in one bedroom he found two cannabis plants by the window and two more plants in a sunroom to the front of the property.

“They were 80 per cent from full maturity, about 4ft high,” he said.

He added that if fully harvested they would have been worth €500 each.

During the course of the search they also found four firearms, two of which were unlicensed.

The guns were produced as evidence and were described as being from the 1920s.

The court heard that they had undergone forensic examination and were found to be capable of discharge.

He added that a number of items were also seized that were found to be in breach of medicinal products regulation.

Merlehan admitted that the cannabis plants were his, but added that he resented them being called drugs.

“They are God’s plants, they are natural,” he said.

He said he didn’t grow the plants as plants grow themselves and that he didn’t purchase them as they had been donated to the church.

“My late wife was always experimenting with natural herbs and remedies,” he said.

He disagreed with Garda Muldowney’s evidence that the plants were 4ft high and claimed they were 18 inches tall.

“They were among the geraniums,” he said.

During his questioning Judge Desmond Zaidan advised Merlehan to keep things specific.

“It is a simple issue. The charge is specific, keep it confined,” Judge Zaidan said.

He then took a break from proceedings and advised Mr Merlehan to speak with Superintendent Martin Walker.

“You have agreed that you were in possession of these articles,” the judge added.

Just two witnesses had been heard and Judge Zaidan noted there were seven to go.

“If this goes to full trial and I find you guilty then whatever sympathies the court may have at that juncture will be gone,” he said.

He noted that if all witnesses had to be heard they would have to resume the case in two weeks time.

“You’ve made certain admissions,” he pointed out.

Shortly after Merlehan changed his plea to guilty, but noted that he had been eating the plants himself.

“They were my food,” he said,

“They were for private use on private property.

“I wasn’t causing any harm to any man.”

Judge Zaidan said he would adjourn the matter for a probation report.

“Don’t make it difficult for the probation officer so they can’t make any recommendations,” advised Judge Zaidan.

“I don’t want to send you to prison.”

The matter has been adjourned to January 24

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