Grief-stricken son set up drugs farm after parents died
GRIEVING Daniel King has been jailed after setting up a cannabis factory in his loft.
The 27-year-old turned to drugs following the death of his parents, and grew cannabis plants at his Joiners Square home to avoid contact with dealers.
But police raided the Cornes Street property in December and found 22 plants and equipment such as heating lamps, transformers and hydroponics trays.
They also discovered that King had bypassed his electricity meter in order to power the farm.
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King was jailed for 16 months at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court after pleading guilty to producing cannabis and abstracting electricity.
Prosecutor David Bennett told the court that King's factory could have produced cannabis worth up to £3,500 in a single crop, while the stolen electricity was valued at £1,743.
Mr Bennett said: "At 10pm on December 14 police officers attended the address after being told there was a burglary in progress at the premises. They could smell cannabis, and saw a trail of cannabis leaves leading from the rear living room up the stairs.
"In the loft area they found a greenhouse-like structure with three hydroponics trays and 22 cannabis plants. The officers left the premises and when the defendant returned they arrested him in the street outside."
Mr Bennett told the court that at the time of King's arrest he had a suspended sentence of six months hanging over him.
This dated from a conviction for assault occasioning actual bodily harm from 2010.
Angela Berrisford, mitigating, said King had struggled to cope with the death of his parents and had suffered mental health issues.
She said: "His parents died in relatively quick succession and he has struggled to deal with that. His mental health deteriorated and he has suffered from depression and psychosis.
"What he realised following his conviction for assault is that he was drinking too much. Unfortunately he did not go back to get medical support, but effectively substituted the alcohol with cannabis.
"He didn't want to associate with the people who supplied him with cannabis, and so he decided to produce the cannabis himself. He undertook limited research on the internet, but a lot of the equipment was not set up, as he did not have the knowledge to work out what went where."
Judge Robert Trevor-Jones sentenced King to 12 months for growing cannabis, three months consecutive for abstracting electricity, and activated one month of his suspended sentence.
He said: "You clearly and deliberately set about establishing sufficient equipment at your disposal to successful grow a crop of cannabis in the loft of your home.
"But I accept that the cannabis was for your own use."