Police discover Colne cannabis farm: court case

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The sentence of a cannabis grower alleged to have been doing it for commercial supply has been adjourned.

Neil Andrew Smith (48) had drugs growing in more than one room of the house. Some were in a tent and he was using lighting units, timers, transformers and an electric fan. Police discovered 12 large, mature plants and at least 25 seedlings, a court was earlier told.

The arthritis sufferer had been caught when police called to a man being attacked in his Colne home by three masked raiders found the victim had what officers described as a “professional” cannabis farm, Burnley magistrates had earlier heard.

Smith, of Bond Street, had earlier admitted producing cannabis on August 8th and the justices had committed him to Burnley Crown Court for sentence.

He was on a suspended jail term for possessing an offensive weapon at the time he was cultivating the drugs.

He was due to learn his fate on Monday, but as well as sentence being put back, Smith might also face a trial over the facts of the case. The potential yield of the plants and the value of the drugs has not yet been given in court.

Smith claims the cannabis set-up was “very amateurish” and the drugs were for his own use, but Mr Jon Close (prosecuting) said: “Seventeen plants were recovered, but of particular concern is 72 seedlings. It’s these items that are clearly going to be of some concern to the court.”

Burnley magistrates were earlier told how Smith spent four days in hospital after the beating by the men who broke into his property armed with weapons and had permanently lost the use of one of his hands.

Mrs Alex Mann (prosecuting at the lower court) said police went to the property after reports of a disturbance. There was an “overwhelming smell of cannabis” and officers found the plants and seedlings being grown in the living room, garage, kitchen and bedroom, as well as digital scales, snap bags and some bank notes.

She said the defendant had a record, but none for drugs and was subject to a suspended sentence. She added: “That was imposed in October 2014 and this discovery was made last August, within two months of the end of that sentence.”

Mr John Rusius (for Smith) said he had a caution for cannabis production. “He attempted to grow some plants, which was a total disaster.”

The self-employed defendant, who had rheumatoid arthritis, has been using the drug for medicinal purposes and it was getting expensive.

Mr Rusius said: “He had another go at growing his own plants and again it was a little bit of a disaster. It was certainly not a professional set-up, he says. He’s very much a novice.”