Workmates are spared jail over Burslem cannabis farm
TWO builders who set up a cannabis farm to feed their own habits have avoided jail.
Friends and workmates Stacey Greenwell and Gavin Rogers received suspended sentences at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court yesterday after pleading to producing a class B drug.
Police recovered 25 cannabis plants from an address in Moorland Road, Burslem, on January 29 this year, after being alerted by Eon officials.
While 33-year-old Greenwell and 34-year-old Rogers never intended the sell the cannabis, the court heard their farm could have produced 1kg of the drug, with a street value of around £5,000.
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Nicky Bell, mitigating, told the court that both defendants were long-standing users of cannabis who made a "reckless" decision to produce the drug themselves.
She said: "This case has had a distressing effect on their family lives and their working lives.
"The defendants worked together in the building trade, and socialised together as well.
"They made the decision to start growing cannabis for their own use. They were long-standing users of cannabis.
"They have never shied away from the reckless decision they made."
Ms Bell said Greenwell, of Ironstone Walk, Burslem, and Rogers, of Barks Drive, Norton, had never previously appeared before the courts.
Judge Robert Trevor-Jones sentenced the pair to four months, suspended for 18 months.
He told the defendants that they had come close to receiving an immediate prison sentence.
Judge Trevor-Jones said: "You are long-standing friends who have generally been positively engaged together in legitimate business.
"This is your first conviction before the court, and I hope it will be your last appearance before the court.
"Producing cannabis like this would normally result in a custodial sentence.
"If there was any suspicion that this cannabis would be sold to someone else, you would be going to prison. But I accept it was for your own personal use.
"Although these were immature plants that were seized, it was a sophisticated set-up in terms of the hydroponics equipment that you used." Following a proceeds of crime hearing, both defendants were ordered to repay £4,915 each, or face two months imprisonment.
They were also told to pay £600 prosecution costs.