Hartlepool dad grew cannabis farm to pay off his son’s drugs debt

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Cannabis plants
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A dad who had a cannabis farm at home was spared jail because he was growing it to pay off his son’s drugs debt.

Stephen Phillips, 46, had discovered that one of his sons owed a dealer £3,500 after he became hooked on crack cocaine.

A crown court judge was told the drugs could have been worth up to £42,000.

His scheme fell apart when the police raided his Hartlepool house and carted off his plants and equipment.

But his lawyer told Teesside Crown Court that his other son took out a loan and paid it off.

Prosecutor David Crook said that police acting on information raided Phillips’s home in Bodmin Grove, Hartlepool, on March 26.

In an upstairs bedroom they found cannabis leaf drying out.

There were 50 plants in the garage, a tray of cuttings and two plants in a small cupboard.

Mr Crook said: “There was a small lamp above the trays, it was a very amateurish set-up.”

The cannabis in the bedroom was worth £149, but the cuttings could have been worth between £11,000 and £42,000.

Mr Crook added: “The Crown are content that he be described as a lesser role in the circumstances.”

He said that there was no application to conduct a Proceeds of Crime investigation.

Mark Styles, defending, said that Phillips’s cannabis farm operated for only a short period of time.

He agreed to grow the plants after he discovered that his son was using crack cocaine and he had run up a £3,500 drug debt to his dealer.

Mr Styles added: “Clearly he accepts that he should not have got involved, but it was out of loyalty to his son.

“The debt was settled by his other son who took out a loan and paid it off.”

Judge Tony Briggs told Phillips: “The drug world can’t operate unless there are people who are unlikely to come to the attention of the police, people who are able and willing to look after the drugs.

“But equally it must be made clear that whatever the reasons for getting involved, for those who store drugs of potentially high value it crosses the custody level.

“But it is possible in the circumstances to suspend the prison sentence.”

Phillips was given a four months jail sentence suspended for two years after he pleaded guilty to production of a Class B drug cannabis between March 1 and March 26.