Buckland cannabis factory worth £7,500 uncovered as owner vows to 'turn a new leaf'
A CANNABIS cultivator has been spared prison despite turning his home into a ‘drugs factory’ growing thousands of pounds worth of potent skunk.
During a raid on Wayne Abbott’s home in Winchester Road in Buckland, police officers discovered 19 plants and 50 pre-packed bags of the drug, weighing 768.5 grams – all with an estimated street value more than £7,500.
In a hearing at Portsmouth Crown Court, Abbott, 48, was given a six-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, and fined £2,000 after pleading guilty to producing a controlled class B drug.
Describing the cannabis farm, prosecutor Matthew Lawson said: ‘Police officers located three rooms being used to grow the cannabis - the front room and two bedrooms.
‘There were 19 young plants and a bigger mother plant.’
Officers also discovered a 6ft by 8ft tent, specialist lights and extractor fan which were ‘purpose built for cannabis growing’.
The drug cultivating equipment is believed to have cost around £15,000.
Summing up the case, judge David Melville QC said: ‘Police officers found a substantial drugs factory which cost thousands of pounds to set up. There is no other way of describing this.
‘You have accepted that you played a significant role in a street dealing level of production.’
Despite accepting the scale of the operation, Abbott’s defence argued the plants were produced for social consumption rather than commercial gain.
Abbott claimed in a basis of plea that a significant proportion of the cannabis was for personal use with the remainder provided to friends.
One friend, he said, used the drug to treat the symptoms of multiple sclerosis and from whom Abbott admitted he did receive payment.
He also claimed he ‘did not expect 20 plants to grow’ - a claim disputed by a police drugs expert who said this was ‘not a credible explanation’.
Experts also cast doubt on his claim to smoke up to 2.5oz of cannabis per week, highlighting it would equate to around ‘30 to 40 spliffs per day’.
Defence representative Jason Halsey said his client had chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder for which he used the cannabis to self-medicate.
In deciding to suspend Abbott’s prison sentence, judge Melville accepted the mitigation of ‘significant health difficulties’ as well as his pledge to ‘turn over a new leaf and get off drugs’.
Abbott was also ordered to complete 20 days of drug rehabilitation and to pay costs of £400.
In 2007 he was previously convicted for possession of cannabis.
The raid was carried out on June 18 last year.