A MAN caught growing up to £20,000 of cannabis in makeshift factories at his home is today behind bars.
Police foiled Stephen Plater’s illegal operation after executing a warrant at two of his properties in Priory Road, Gosport.
Officers found 170 plants growing in a garage and a workshop there.
The cannabis was estimated to be worth up to £20,000.
Police also seized 7.31g of class B amphetamines.
Dad Plater, 45, was arrested at the scene on February 11 last year and later admitted one count of possessing a class B drug and another of being concerned in the production of a class B drug.
At Portsmouth Crown Court, Chas Courchant, prosecuting, said: ‘The drug expert said it wasn’t a sophisticated operation but there was considerable expense to convert the garage and it was a commercial scale.’
Louisa Bagley, defending, said Plater was a vulnerable man who at the time was addicted to amphetamines, and it had been accepted that he was ‘not the brains behind the operation’.
Addressing Judge Ian Pearson, she said: ‘He was very isolated at the time.
‘Your honour heard his evidence about feeling he had no friends and that’s why he befriended his drug dealer in effect, who was supplying his amphetamines, and of course there was his own very strong amphetamine addiction at the time.’
Sentencing Plater to two-and-a-half years in jail, Judge Pearson said: ‘The potential profit for this enterprise was going to be quite large.’
He added: ‘It was a significant operation and the value of the cannabis if the crop had been successful would have been anything it seems between £4,000 and £20,000, so it was a commercial operation and has all the hallmarks of a commercial supply. The offence is so serious that only a custodial sentence may be justifiable for this.’
An order was made for the drugs and equipment to be forfeited and destroyed.
Plater will face a confiscation hearing that could see him being ordered to pay back some of his criminal gains under the Proceeds Of Crime Act. A hearing date is yet to be set.