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Burglary victim ends up in jail after police stumble into cannabis farm

Staffordshire | News | Published:

A burglary victim ended up being the one in jail after police called to investigate the break-in discovered his cannabis farm.

Officers found a drug crop worth up to £64,000 in the burgled one-bedroom flat.

Police were alerted by neighbours who had seen the raiders carrying bags away from the property as they fled.

The officers then found the lucrative crop of cannabis, Wolverhampton Crown Court was told.

The burglars had stripped 40 pots of skunk that had been under cultivation in the living room of the property in Cannock Road, Park Village, explained Mr Nicholas Smith, prosecuting.

But a further 90 fledgling plants were still being grown in the bedroom.

Father-of-three Adrian Howell, 46, claimed to have been away for a few days when the flat was broken into but insisted that he was living there.

Mr Smith retorted: "You were not. All the space was taken up with cannabis plants. It would have been incredibly hot and the smell must have been overwhelming. This was purely to grow cannabis."

The defendant maintained the drugs were for his own use despite expert evidence that it would have taken him at least four years to smoke.

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Unemployed Howell claimed that it was the first crop he had tried to cultivate and conceded: "I might have gone a bit over the top with it."

He said he was a heavy user and explained: "I suffer from depression and anxiety.

"The cannabis relaxes me and sorts me out. I used to buy it on the street but it cost me a fortune. I thought it would be better to grow my own. But it wasn't because I am in court."

Mr David Iles, defending, said none of the normal paraphernalia of drug dealing such as dealer lists, scales, cash and mobile phones were found at the address after the July 28 break-in.

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Howell admitted producing cannabis but his claim that it was for his own use was dismissed by Recorder Stephen Thomas who said: "What the police found was a property that had been turned over to the production of cannabis.

"It was a reasonably sophisticated operation and a fair amount of work had gone into setting it up

"He was a heavy user and if this was his first crop he would not have set up an enterprise of this size. Nor would anybody intending it to be for their personal use. Rather than it being an asset to his life, this was his life.

"The plan was to keep some for himself while the rest was used to defray the cost of production and assist the defendant financially."

Howell, who had several previous convictions, was jailed for 20 months.

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