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Rossendale £110k drugs 'gardener’ had leg broken
2:00pm Tuesday 18th September 2012 in News
THE ‘gardener’ for a £110,000 cannabis factory claimed he had to set up the operation in a village terrace after drug dealers broke his leg.
Burnley Crown Court heard how drug user John Staunton, 48, told police officers he was thrown out of van in one incident.
He said he had been told he had to pay £800 for a £400 drugs debt, and was threatened his legs would be broken.
Months later, he was told if he looked after a cannabis farm, set up in his house, the debt would be considered settled, and he would be paid £1,200 a month.
The hearing was told how police found about 80 cannabis plants growing at the terrace home, in Market Street, Shawforth, where he lived, and which he rented from his sister, in January.
The electricity meter had been by-passed, and £2,888 power had been used.
Staunton, who is still on crutches after he says a rod was inserted into his broken leg, had a record, but nothing for drugs. The defendant admitted producing cannabis, between October last year and January, and abstracting electricity.
He was sentenced to eight months in jail, suspended for 12 months, with 12 months supervision, a four-month curfew, between 8pm and 7am, and a nine- month alcohol treatment programme.
David Macro, prosecuting, said Staunton owned up on the basis he had been put under pressure to act as a gardener. He accepted he had been paid.
Police went to the house and found four black bin liners of cannabis leaves. On the first floor, they discovered a cannabis cultivation set-up, with 32 mature plants, lighting, an industrial-type extraction unit, and the electricity meter.
On the second floor, officers discovered another growing system, with 50 plants.
Sentencing, Recorder Andrew Long said Staunton was still living with the consequences of being thrown out of the van.
He said: “This was a sophisticated, commercial set-up.
“Normally, I would have no hesitation whatsoever in sending you immediately to prison.
“However, you surrendered yourself to police, you confessed what you were involved in, and you pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity.
“I am prepared to accept, on balance, that you were effectively coerced as to your involvement in this matter.”
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