Nelson career criminal has 113 offences on his record

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A CAREER criminal who was growing 80 cannabis plants was spared jail – and a judge said it probably didn’t hold much terror for him anyway as he had been that often.

Steven Rawcliffe, who has 133 previous offences on his record, had kept the drugs farm behind a bedroom door which was nailed shut. Police found the plants, transformers, lighting units, a fan and timer, but no hydroponic system, Burnley Crown Court was told.

Rawcliffe, now trying to fight his drugs addiction, was said by a probation officer to be motivated to change and he was given a suspended prison term to prove it.

The defendant (27), of Percy Street, Nelson, admitted producing cannabis between May and July last year. He was given 12 months in custody, suspended for two years, with a 12-month drugs rehabilitation programme and two years’ supervision.

Miss Sarah Statham (prosecuting) said last July 9th, police raided a property on Albert Street, Oswaldtwistle. They forced entry and found three people sleeping on the sofa. The defendant was one of them. Officers could hear electronic noises from upstairs and found a bedroom door nailed shut.

A forensic scientist examined the cannabis plants and found 35 were mature, with an potential average yield of 10.7 grams from each plant. Another 45 plants were at an early stage of development and the scientist reported some of them might not have reached maturity. There was also a mother plant. Rawcliffe made no comment when questioned.

Mr Joe Boyd, for Rawcliffe, said he had difficulties with drugs and difficulties with finances. He stupidly decided to do what other people were doing and bought some equipment for £150.

He had not offended since September last year. The defendant was now living back with his mother, had been engaging with the police-run Revolution project and was also attending Inspire. The barrister continued: “He has been doing the best he can by himself, enrolling in these courses without the requirement of having to do so by a court order.”

Passing sentence, Judge Andrew Woolman told Rawcliffe: “You have got an appalling record for offences of dishonesty. It looks like for the moment you have decided to give up offences of dishonesty and decided to grow cannabis plants instead to provide you with an income.

“The author of the pre- sentence report thinks you are quite well motivated to change and get yourself off drugs. I am prepared to see if the probation officer has got it right. If, he hasn’t, I daresay you will be back in prison at some point. I don’t suppose prison holds much terror for you anymore, you have been so often.”