Man grew cannabis ‘to get out of debt’

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POLICE found 200 cannabis plants in a bedroom at a house in Bury St Edmunds when they raided the property last November a court was told.

On Wednesday Jason Ellis, 30, was jailed for 12 months after pleading guilty to producing a Class B drug and breaching a suspended sentence for an unrelated matter.

Prosecuting, Michael Crimp told Ipswich Crown Court that when officers entered the house in Clay Road they were met with the distinctive smell of cannabis.

A search revealed more than 200 cannabis plants being cultivated behind drawn curtains in upstairs bedrooms.

Ventilation and watering equipment had been installed and the operation was being powered by an electricity cable leading from an outhouse where the mains supply had been illegally tapped into.

Mr Crimp said the estimated loss to the electricity supply company amounted to £5,000.

When arrested Ellis, of Kingswear Road, London, told police that he had fallen into debt with someone he refused to name who had said the £2,000 debt would be erased if the house was used to produce cannabis.

The court was told last summer neighbours noticed activity at the house together with banging noises.

Ellis told police that he had not been involved in setting up the cannabis farm but after his fingerprints were found on electrical equipment at the scene he admitted helping to grow the crop.

Defending, Joseph Wright said the house had been left to Ellis’s children and his brother.

Ellis insisted he did not have the skills to set up the electricity supply and watering system. He also insisted that his brother was not involved.

The person to whom Ellis was alleged to owe money had made it clear that he wouldsuffer harm if the money was no repaid, said Mr Wright.

“He was doing what he was told to get himself out of debt and to avoid unsavoury consequences,” he added.

Sentencing Ellis, Judge Peter Fenn said the seriousness of the offending, although Ellis was not the main organiser, and the fact that it placed him in breach of a suspended prison sentence meant that immediate custody was inevitable.