A warehouse worker who would have sold some of the cannabis he grew to help cover the cost of his operation has escaped being jailed.
Christopher Sheridan, 26, of Robertson Close, Clifton-on-Dunsmore, near Rugby, had pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to producing cannabis and possessing a quantity of the drug.
He entered his plea on the basis that the whole crop was for his own use, which was rejected by Judge Sylvia de Bertodano after hearing him give evidence during a ‘trial of issue.’
But following an adjournment for a pre-sentence report to be prepared on him, Sheridan was sentenced to 12 months in prison suspended for 12 months and ordered to do 180 hours of unpaid work and to take part in a six-month drug rehabilitation programme.
Judge de Bertodano told him: “That is to give you an opportunity to deal with your drugs issue.”
She had heard that the police went to Sheridan’s home with a search warrant in January after neighbours had alerted them to suspicions that cannabis was being grown there.
There were around 26 cannabis plants being grown in the lounge and a further 12 in a growing tent in a bedroom.
Even allowing for ten of the plants being in poor health, the crop would have been capable of producing up to 1,260 grams of cannabis with a street value of between £8,800 and £12,600.
But giving evidence Sheridan asserted it would all have been for his own use.
Asked about his cannabis use, he said: “It’s excessive. I smoke more than I can afford. It was costing me £2-300 a week.
“It was affecting not just me, but my family as well because I was getting into debt.
“I decided to buy some seeds online and grow my own for my own use. I got two tents, lights and fans, and pots and trays to put the plants into.
“The instructions said I would get roughly one ounce per plant, and I was using over an ounce a week.”
Prosecutor Aliya Rashid pointed out that the plants in the lounge alone would have produced £9,000 worth of cannabis, but Sheridan responded: “I didn’t think of it in terms of value.”
Sheridan, who said he had funded the equipment by going without cannabis for a week, was asked about £160 in cash which he had when he was arrested.
He said he was doing warehouse work on a temporary basis through an agency at the time, having lost a full-time job because of his cannabis habit, and the money was his last week’s income.
David Everett, defending, said Sheridan had not been arrested because of any evidence of him supplying cannabis, but because neighbours had reported the smell of it from his home.
Judge de Bertodano observed that, based on Sheridan’s estimate that he smoked 30 to 40 grams of cannabis a week, the crop would have lasted him between 31 and 42 weeks.
Rejecting his basis of plea, she had said: “I do not believe that amount of cannabis was being grown simply for the defendant’s own use.
“I am sure that, at the very least, he sought to cover the cost of the operation by the sale of cannabis; although I do accept there was no ongoing plan to supply on a commercial scale.”