Abbey Hulton drug 'gardener' had 100 cannabis plants
A COCAINE user who tended to cannabis plants to help pay off a debt to his dealer has avoided a jail sentence.
Ewan Wyatt, aged 26, had nurtured 100 cannabis plants at an address in Abbots Road, Abbey Hulton, Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court heard yesterday.
Prosecutor Heather Chamberlin said police took action after receiving reports of a smell coming from the property.
"The officer was allowed entry," Miss Chamberlin said.
"The defendant was present. The bedrooms had been given over to the production of cannabis and there was no furniture, apart from one room used for sleeping and living in."
On December 17 last year Wyatt was arrested and police found 100 plants of different sizes. Officers recovered 41 plants in one room, with 27 smaller plants and 32 cuttings in a second.
Miss Chamberlin said the estimated yield of the crop would have been 2.5 kilograms with a value of £18,499. The electricity meter had also been bypassed with the loss of electricity put at £1,121.
In his police interview, Wyatt said he had smoked cannabis since he was young and had got himself into debt. He said he borrowed money on behalf of his mother to help her pay her council tax bill.
He ended up owing £3,000 and his dealer turned nasty and said he knew where Wyatt's family were.
Wyatt said he was at the address for seven weeks and was pleased it was all over.
The defendant pleaded guilty to producing cannabis on the basis he was a gardener.
Nicola Bell, mitigating, conceded it was a commercial set up and operation but said Wyatt played a lesser role and asked Judge Paul Glenn to suspend any prison sentence.
The judge sentenced Wyatt to eight months in prison, suspended for 18 months, with 12 months supervision and 180 hours in unpaid work.
Judge Glenn told Wyatt: "When the police raided this flat they found a significant number of cannabis plants. "The potential yield and street value was 2.5 kilograms. The operation was powered by illegally-sourced electricity.
"Some cannabis had plainly been harvested. You got yourself into terrible difficulties because of your use of cocaine and your inability to fund it. You borrowed money off your dealer to pay off other people's commitments."
But the court heard Wyatt has made positive changes in his life. He is in full-time work and is now drug-free after seeking professional help.
Judge Glenn certified Wyatt's benefit to be £19,620 – the value of the drugs and the abstracted electricity. He made a confiscation order for the available amount of £3,870.