Norwich man caught growing cannabis at his home

Peter WalshA man with a long-standing drug addiction, who cultivated enough cannabis plants in his house to potentially produce �38,000 worth of drugs a year, could be sent to prison.Peter Walsh

A man with a long-standing drug addiction, who cultivated enough cannabis plants in his house to potentially produce �38,000 worth of drugs a year, could be sent to prison.

Craig Watson, 28, appeared at Norwich Magistrates Court yesterday charged with producing a quantity of cannabis, a controlled class B drug, between February and August 2009.

Watson, of Berners Street, off Aylsham Road, Norwich, will be sentenced at Norwich Crown Court at a later date after magistrates deemed the offence to be 'so serious' that it should receive a punishment greater than they were able to impose.

DenisKing, prosecuting, said police searched Watson's address where 'a bag of herbal cannabis was found on the sofa'. But a further search of the property revealed cannabis growing equipment upstairs.

Mr King said both upstairs bedrooms contained hydroponic equipment with plastic sheeting covering about 30 plants. The electricity meter had also been bypassed.

He added: 'The potential yield over a period of a year would be something like 6.89kg of cannabis from the plants reaching full maturity and three to four yields in that time with a street value of something like �38,000. That's the top value police would put on it in terms of potential yield.'

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Mr King said police also found �400 in cash and two mobile phones at the property with text messages relating to the sale of cannabis.

Alison McManus, mitigating, said Watson, who entered a guilty plea at the first time of asking, lived on his own and had no previous matters against him.

She said: 'He has a long-standing addiction, which has resulted in mental health issues.'

Ms McManus said that Watson, who has had a girlfriend of six years and a three-year-old son, spent �140 a week on drugs, but as a part-time cleaner in receipt of benefits could not afford to keep paying for his addiction so he 'tried to grow it himself'.

She said Watson researched how to grow the drugs and intended to grow as many as he could in a short space of time - which would have lasted him a couple of years - before stopping.

She said the potential yield referred to by the prosecution was based on 'complete speculation' and depended on all of the plants surviving and of having a successful set up and also having three to four yields.

The court heard that following his arrest, Watson sought help for his problem from various agencies, which he is still doing, and spent 15 days at Hellesdon Hospital.

Charles Nevick, chairman of the bench, committed the matter to Norwich Crown Court for sentencing at a date to be fixed.

Watson was released on unconditional bail until the next hearing.

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