Police found cannabis in caravan next to Tank Cottages in Newbold Road

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A MECHANIC who had given up work to rebuild his fire-gutted home was caught drying cannabis ‘for a mate’ in the caravan he and his family were living in.

Patrick Paul, 50, of Tank Cottages, Newbold Road, Rugby, pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to possessing the cannabis with intent to supply it.

He was given a community sentence for 12 months and ordered to do 180 hours of unpaid work and to pay £260 costs.

Prosecutor Sarah Pedley said that in August last year the police went to Paul’s home with a search warrant.

There was a large security fence around the property, and inside that was a workshop, a caravan and a derelict cottage, and when they spoke to Paul, he seemed agitated.

In the caravan the officers found small amounts of cannabis on a table and in the seating area, and £260 in cash.

Miss Pedley pointed out that Paul has already been dealt with in the magistrates court for possessing that cannabis for his own use.

But the officers also found a box containing 526 grams of a potent form of skunk cannabis and a bag containing a further 53 grams of the drug – worth a total of £3,300.

When he was arrested Paul told the police: “I was just drying out some stuff for a mate.”

He later explained he had been given the plants to strip down and dry for someone else, and was to give the dried cannabis back to that person in return for being given some of it for his own use.

Miss Pedley said Paul had ‘a long history of acquisitive offences,’ but had largely been out of trouble since 1992 apart from his conviction last year for possessing the small amount of cannabis found in the caravan.

David Everett, defending, said Paul is a self-employed mechanic, but ‘is not working at the moment.’

He explained: “He had a fire in his cottage 18 months ago. After the fire he stopped working and began to fight for the insurance.

“He has received some money, which he has unwisely used to live on and to repair the cottage himself. But he has not come anywhere near rebuilding it, and it is described by the police as derelict.”

At an earlier hearing the case had to be adjourned because Paul had not got any legal representation.

Asked why, he explained he had received an insurance payment of £10,000 which he needed to carry out the work on the cottage - but because of that amount in his bank account he could not get legal aid.

Asked why he could not use some of the £10,000 to pay for a lawyer, Paul replied: “This is money to rebuild the house. It’s not profit. It’s to give my family a home.”

But the Judge on that occasion adjourned the case and advised him to get legal representation, asking how Paul’s family would cope if he ended up being jailed because he did not have a trained lawyer to put his case.

Sentencing Paul at the resumed hearing, Recorder Adam Feest told him: “You know how seriously the courts can take people who have cannabis with intent to supply it.

“Had you pleaded guilty on the basis that you were involved in commercial supply, you would almost certainly have been going to custody.”