Police called to burglary found cannabis factory
A man who had fallen on hard times allowed his home to be used as a cannabis factory which police estimated would yield a crop worth up to £100,000, a court heard.
Jason Bray, aged 41, got chatting to a man outside a pub where he had gone to buy cannabis soon after taking the lease on a house in Wordsley.
He agreed to permit the three-bedroomed property in Brierley Hill Road to be used for growing cannabis plants on the understanding he would receive payment when the drugs were sold, Wolverhampton Crown Court heard.
But he was caught after a burglary at the house – reported by neighbours – during which a substantial number of the plants were stolen, said Mr Mark Phillips, prosecuting.
Police were alerted to the break-in in May and discovered a cannabis factory in full operation inside. The living room was full of equipment for the propagation of drugs while there were growing tents in two upstairs bedrooms.
Seventy-one plants in the early stages of production were found along with 50 empty pots, the contents of which had been stolen in the burglary.
The total potential yield of the crop was estimated to be between 3.5kg and 10kg of cannabis which would have earned the gang between £35,000 and £100,000 in sales on the street.
Investigating officers found a council tax bill addressed to Bray at the property but in the meantime he had contacted a solicitor and voluntarily went to the police station to own up to his part in the operation.
The court heard he had not received any money although some of his bills had been paid.
Mr Henry Skudra, defending, argued that Bray had taken no part in the running of the operation and had been suffering from depression since the death of his brother in violent circumstances in 2010, and the stillbirth of his son in 2013 followed by his father's death last year.
He had also lost his job at Bliss Sand and Gravel in Aldridge after the company went into liquidation, and had started smoking cannabis.
"This was a poor reaction to a set of adverse personal circumstances," said Mr Skudra.
Bray, of Birmingham Road, West Bromwich, who admitted allowing his home to be used for the production of cannabis, was given a 12-month prison sentence suspended for 18 months. He was also ordered to carry out 120 hours unpaid work and pay £100 towards prosecution costs.