Jailed for drugs

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A CANNABIS farmer from Ilkeston has been jailed for 18 months after being caught growing a crop with a street value of thousands of pounds.

Mark Sheldon, 26, a recycling worker from Peveril Drive, Ilkeston, admitted producing cannabis with intent to supply after he started growing the drug in the hope of making a £50,000 profit.

The drugs were found at a house in Loscoe Road, Heanor, where Sheldon had been living before returning to live with his father in Ilkeston.

When police raided the house on February 11 they found 154 plants in a ‘nursery area’.

Harvested plants were found in what police called ‘the main growing area’ while officers discovered numerous drying flowering heads.

In another room, 18 plants were found as well as plastic bags used by drug dealers. There were also ‘mother plants’ probably used to provide a supply of cuttings for future crops.

Laura Pitman, prosecuting, said: “He was extremely open with the police. He said he decided to grow it to sustain his own habit and told police he became greedy, decided he was going to sell it to others and make some money.

“He thought he would make £50,000 but later thought that estimate was way too high.”

She said the cannabis had a street value of between £9,600 and £13,500. But if it had been sold in £10 deals, the total could have reached £37,000.

In mitigation Alastair Munt said Sheldon had managed to avoid using cannabis for nearly three weeks after having ‘a heavy habit’ for 12 years which cost him £30 a day.

“Because he had a bad experience, being confronted by dealers who attacked him, he decided to grow his own,” Mr Munt added.

“This was his first grow with a commercial aspect to it. He didn’t grow cannabis for that purpose to begin with.”

Mr Munt said the home had not been rented with the intention of using it to produce cannabis.

Recorder and QC Shaun Smith said the offence was serious because Sheldon was running it as a commercial operation – even though it wasn’t a huge drugs factory – and had also avoided paying for electricity.

He warned Sheldon that if he was caught again he could expect a sentence of up to six years.

“Everybody is at it these days, growing cannabis, and because everybody is at it, the Court of Appeal says what should happen depending on where people are in the scheme of things,” the Recorder added.

“You are in the category of someone growing cannabis to make money. One of the other factors to take into account is that you bypassed the electricity meter. That makes it worse.

“I don’t take the view that you are particularly sophisticated but the set-up was sophisticated, don’t get me wrong.”