Drug farmer avoids immediate jail term

A DAD with a young baby wasted a cash windfall of thousands of pounds on drugs and booze.

But when the money ran out, Daniel Rochford, 23, joined the rising numbers of drug farmers Teesside Crown Court was told.

He came to his senses when police raided his home and seized 21 cannabis plants and a sophisticated growing system, said his lawyer.

Rochford, who has a three-year-old daughter with his partner, was also caught with text messages on his mobile phone which showed he had been involved in low-level street dealing, said prosecutor Jenny Haigh.

The police also seized £1,215 cash from his Hartlepool home, which he signed over as the proceeds of crime.

They recovered 28 grams of cannabis, and a police expert estimated that he had benefitted from the farm to the amount of £2,897.

Jim Withyman, mitigating, said that Rochford was given £8,500 two years ago and he went “completely off the rails”.

He spent it on drink and heavy cannabis use, and when the money ran out his drug supplier suggested that he could recoup some of his losses by running a cannabis farm.

Mr Withyman said that since Rochford’s arrest in November 2011 he had given up drugs entirely, and he was highly regarded in a job which took him all around the country.

Judge Howard Crowson told Rochford that the increasing numbers of cannabis growers was leading to courts passing sentences of immediate imprisonment.

The judge added: “I have read the pre-sentence report on you which speaks of a desire to put things behind you.

“You have been heading in the right direction, and you have already demonstrated an ability to keep out of trouble.

“I think it is sufficient to keep this hanging over your head.”

Rochford, of Raby Gardens, Hartlepool, was given an 11 month jail sentence suspended for 18 months after he pleaded guilty to producing a Class B drug, possession with intent to supply, and possession.