Cannabis user is spared prison

A HEAVY cannabis user has avoided instant jail after his own crop of plants was nipped in the bud.

Ian Galloway, who has a £100-a-week cannabis habit, was caught by police growing 43 plants in his home.

Teesside Crown Court heard the three-week-old crop could have produced up to £17,000 of skunk cannabis if the plants had reached their full potential.

But they were discovered at the 45-year-old’s flat in Ridlington Way, Hartlepool, when police went to follow up another cannabis farm at the same address.

Prosecuting, Sue Jacobs said: “Officers went to an address in Ridlington Way following up on inquiries in relation to a cannabis farm that had been found there the previous month.

“While making these investigations, they became suspicious regarding the flat occupied by the defendant.

“They could hear fans running, saw there was some ventilation equipment and once inside there was a strong smell of cannabis.” Galloway had also bypassed the electricity meter to fuel the heat and ventilation equipment in order to help the plants grow.

He illegally used £480 of electricity and caused £500 in damage.

Galloway, who has smoked cannabis for around 30 years, accepted he would have supplied some of the eventual drugs to family and friends.

He admitted production and possession of cannabis and abstracting electricity on June 13 last year.

Paul Cleasby, mitigating, said: “He accepts he couldn’t have possibly consumed all that cannabis for himself.

“He co-operated with the police and allowed them access to the property, eventhough he knew what they would find.

“It does not appear that the venture has profited him in any way.”

A probation report said the chance of Galloway re-offending was low.

He was given a 12-month prison sentence that was suspended for two years, with one-year probation supervision and 100-hours unpaid work.

He will also be electronically tagged for a three-month curfew between 10pm and 7am.

The judge, Recorder David Dobbin said: “While there were a number of plants and clearly a small commercial enterprise, it was not an industrial sized enterprise.”