Barrowford cannabis farm ‘gardener’ is jailed

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A “GARDENER” for a “professional” £14,500 cannabis farm found in the bedroom of a house in Barrowford has been jailed for 446 days.

Burnley Crown Court heard that addict Jason Barker (34) did not live at the sparsely-furnished terrace property on Nora Street, but from the outside it looked like a home in a bid to keep the authorities away for as long as possible.

Barker, who often stayed the night at the property, was said to be in debt to a cannabis dealer. He played a subordinate role at the “farm” and was taking directions from those above him to pay the cash back.

Police discovered 32 plants in a sophisticated growing system and the electricity meter had been by-passed.

Barker, a father of two, of Whalley Road, Accrington, had admitted producing cannabis and had been committed for sentence by magistrates.

Mr Tim Brennand, prosecuting, said last December, officers raided the property and realised nobody was living there full-time.

In a first floor bedroom was an insulated tent, with the 32 plants, measuring between five feet and three feet.

The plants were flowering and ready to yield a crop.

Industrial lighting was plugged into a battery pack. Piping led from the tent through the roof into a ventilation area and there was plastic tubing into the bathroom for irrigation.

Mr Brennand said the plants would yield just under one and a half kilos of drugs.

The defendant handed himself into the police station on January 2nd and made full confessions.

The barrister added: “The Crown are prepared to accept that he wasn’t in this alone.”

The Court also heard that Barker had 50 offences on his record.

Mr Michael McQuillan, for the defendant, said he went to the police station when he found out officers wanted to speak to him. He would stay overnight at the property, to make sure the plants were watered and the lights were on.

The solicitor continued: “This defendant is on benefits. There was no way he could afford to buy this equipment and pay for the rent for these premises. He was acting as a gardener.”

Sentencing, Judge Graham Knowles told the defendant: “It’s clearly a commercial operation, undoubtedly run for profit, and that makes this a serious case.”

The judge continued: “The inescapable fact is that you were in it for gain and your role was a vital and ongoing one.

“Whatever else you were, you were not naive.

“You knew perfectly well what was happening and what you were involving yourself in. You knew the stakes you were playing for.”