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Tuesday, 21 October 2014

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Cumbrian cannabis farm man spared prison

A man who ran a “cottage industry” scale cannabis farm from his home has walked free from court after what a judge said was an incomprehensible decision to not to charge him with a drug supply offence.

When police officers raided John Macauley’s property in Main Street, Frizington, last January they found 19 cannabis plants, being carefully cultivated with lighting and heating.

There was also a large amount of cannabis resin – a total of 165 grammes.

Officers also found digital scales, £2,000 in cash and a phone with a text message asking if the 52-year-old was “open for business”, Carlisle Crown Court heard. The street value of the cannabis found was just over £2,000.

Despite that evidence, and the defendant having a previous conviction for producing the class B drug, a lawyer at CPS Direct – a national out-of-hours service for advising police on charging – decided he should be charged only with producing the drug.

Prosecutor Gerard Rogerson said the defendant told police he was growing the drug purely for his own use.

He denied categorically that he was selling cannabis to supplement his income.

“He said he had started experimenting with a few plants and it got out of hand,” said the prosecutor.

Greg Hoare, for Macauley, said the defendant suffered various medical conditions and used cannabis in the belief that it would help him control his pain.

Judge Paul Batty QC told the defendant: “You are a very lucky man because these facts and this evidence cry out for a charge of supply or possession of cannabis with intent to supply.

“Yet someone in their infinite wisdom at CPS Direct decided to charge you with production, and the advice given was that there was insufficient evidence for a more serious charge, which in my view is utterly incomprehensible.

“But I have to sentence on the basis of what you have been charged with.”

The judge imposed a two year jail sentence, suspended for two years, with 12 months Probation Service supervision.

He also imposed an electronically monitored 7pm to 7am curfew for four months.

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