Ilfracombe cannabis grower avoids time in jail
A CARPENTER who grew his own cannabis to feed his £50-a-week habit has avoided jail after a judge accepted he was not selling his harvest.
Justin Francis, 32, was found with £2,615 cash, three sets of scales, and incriminating messages on his mobile phone but insisted his crop was for his own use.
Drugs squad officers found six flourishing plants at his Ilfracombe home when they raided it earlier this year, Exeter Crown Court was told.
Francis, of Meadow Close, Ilfracombe, admitted producing cannabis and was ordered to do 100 hours unpaid community work, forfeit the cash, and pay £340 costs.
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Judge John Neligan told him: "You say these plants were for your own personal use.
"However cynically one may look at that, the fact is that the prosecution have accepted your basis of plea.
"You say you grew the plants because you were finding your £50 a week expenditure on cannabis to be difficult going, but it is against the law to grow cannabis even for your own consumption.
"I take into account you have a new job to start and past employers speak very highly of you indeed."
David Bowen, for the prosecution, said three sets of scales, cash, and a small scale growing operation were found by police at his home, along with 2.33 ounces of cannabis.
Francis told officers the plants were for his own use and gave other explanations for texts on his phone which could have referred to drugs.
Richard Crabb, for the defence, said Francis is a hard working man who likes to relax in the evening by using cannabis. He said he is a specialist carpenter who is expert in rope access and has been offered a new job to start next week.