Portsmouth landlord convicted after lodger set up cannabis factory

Michael Lane. Picture: Malcolm Wells

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WHEN insurance worker Darren Roach lost his job he rented out a room in his house to make some extra money.

But the 39-year-old had no idea his new tenant was going to set up a small-scale cannabis factory in his room.

Now Roach has been ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid work after police raided his house in Milton Road, Portsmouth.

The officers found 26 cannabis plants in the lodger’s bedroom and another £3,120 worth of the drug hidden in bags.

The plants would have yielded cannabis worth £5,000.

Portsmouth Crown Court heard Roach was intimidated by his housemate Dwayne Martin and was too frightened to go to the police.

Terence Brookes, defending, said Martin had a string of previous convictions and had been jailed for eight years for dealing cocaine.

‘He was an intimidating figure,’ he said.

‘He made no direct threats but this defendant was extremely worried about him.

‘He recognises that he was the one who should have reported the matter to the police.’

The court heard father-of-one Roach had since got a job as a recruitment consultant.

‘He got to the bottom of his luck and is now fighting his way back up,’ Mr Brookes said. ‘I venture to suggest that he will never commit another offence.’

He added: ‘It was in the context of him being temporarily out of work.

‘It was within a fairly short period of time that the defendant discovered he was using that room to store a cannabis factory.’

Roach, who has moved to Spencer Road, Emsworth, since the police raid last August, pleaded guilty to permitting his premises to be used for the production of a class B drug.

Sentencing him Judge Ian Pearson said: ‘I accept your role in this offence was somewhat limited.

‘Events rather overtook you, with you finding yourself perhaps intimidated to some extent by Mr Martin, who was actually the person cultivating the drugs in question.

‘Nevertheless you should have gone to the police.’

Roach was ordered to complete the unpaid work within the next year and pay £175 in court costs.

Judge Pearson warned him: ‘If you breach the terms of the order by failing to carry out the 200 hours of work you will be brought back to court and a custodial sentence is highly likely.’