Cannabis grower is spared jail

A CANNABIS user who grew his own crop worth more than £16,000 to combat depression after an accident has been spared jail.

Matthew Evans, 26, set up a cannabis farm of 28 plants in his loft after falling into a “spiral of depression” from the accident which cost him his sight in his right eye.

Drugs police discovered the crop when they burst into his former home in Bruntoft Avenue, Hartlepool, on May 19 last year.

Teesside Crown Court heard they had a potential street value of up to £16,880 on the street.

That was higher than expected for the number of plants as tests showed they would have produced more cannabis than usual.

Rachel Masters, prosecuting, said: “Having entered there was a strong smell of cannabis.

“They made their way upstairs and found what was described as a cannabis farm in the loft area.

“The yield from a sample plant far exceeded the typical amount of 40 grams per plant at 60.3 grams.”

The loft walls had been lined with reflective sheeting and six lights were left switched on for 12 hours a day.

Evans, a painter, arrived during the search and was arrested.

He told police he had been growing cannabis for about two months and he smoked the drug to combat depression.

Martin Scarborough, mitigating, said Evans suffered depression after his accident for which he received a personal injury pay out.

He said: “He had gone into a spiral of depression. He accepts, perhaps at his lowest, he wasn’t thinking straight with that payment coming to him and he set up the cannabis farm. “There is no evidence of any supply.”

Mr Scarborough added Evans, of West View Road, Hartlepool, had since stopped using cannabis.

He was given 12 months prison suspended for 18 months with probation after admitting producing a Class B drug.

Judge Peter Bowers said: “The guidelines suggest you should get a prison sentence and usually that means straight to prison.

“I don’t think you are the sort of person who would benefit from that and I don’t think the public would, so I’m going to suspend the sentence.”