JUDGES have lived up to their promise to crack down hard on cannabis growers - issuing 14 men with jail terms in the last month alone.
Tough custodial sentences have been handed down in Sheffield to criminals growing cannabis illegally across South Yorkshire.
The city’s most senior judge Alan Goldsack QC had warned the courts would come down hard on anyone bringing the “dangerous” drug into existence.
Among those now in prison is city drug dealer Barrington Broomfield, 23 - who has appeared before the courts almost every year since 2005.
Police raided his home and found cannabis in a bedroom cupboard, and more stored in the freezer.
Jailing him, Recorder Michael Hubbard QC told Sheffield Crown Court: “I don’t think much of the boy, frankly.”
In the last month alone at Sheffield Crown Court, 11 growers have been sent to prison and another three sentenced to suspended jail terms. Judge Alan Goldsack revealed he was dealing almost every day with criminals producing the illegal substance. He threatened offenders with jail, warning ‘those who bring cannabis into existence must be punished’.
And, since his stark warning, the total dealt with under the new crackdown is 15. Reginald White, aged 22, from Chesterfield, was given a two-year conditional order of discharge for growing the drug.
Dealer Barrington Broomfield, 23, who has appeared in court almost every year since 2005, was among those locked up for producing cannabis.
The court heard he had a catalogue of previous convictions for offences relating to cannabis, heroin and cocaine which began when he was 17.
In a search of Broomfield’s maisonette police found cannabis plants and a growing system in a cupboard.
Also locked up was Glynn Brown, 45, of Collister Road, Darnall - jailed for six months for producing cannabis with an estimated street value of £7,200.
The court heard Brown was using up to half an ounce of cannabis every day when he decided to grow 18 plants at an address on Poole Road, Darnall.
The computer industry worker’s drug misuse had escalated following the break-up of his marriage of 24 years and the pressures of having a sick daughter, who needed a series of operations.
The plants were found in an attic bedroom, along with artificial lighting and a hydroponic watering system.
Brown had looked on the internet for instructions on how to set up his own ‘growing mechanism’.
Richard Adams, defending, said: “He, for the largest part, has been commendable in the fact he has been law-abiding. He concedes that, had he had a clearer vision about how to deal with events some two years ago, he would not be here today.”
But Judge Goldsack told Brown: “You are 45. Apart from one recent conviction of driving with too much alcohol, you are a man of good character. I believe you have had some difficulties in recent years.
“But you have pleaded guilty to growing cannabis, in a reasonably sophisticated set-up which you researched on the internet.
“Whatever else you can say about this particular offending, it is not something that can happen by chance.
“I will make the sentence in this case as short as I can, but you must go to prison for six months.”
Ex-fitter Liam Bridges, 23, escaped with a suspended sentence for growing six plants in the cellar of a property on Storey Street in Swinton, Rotherham.
Bridges was arrested in May following the discovery of what prosecutor Richard Sheldon called ‘a well-established hydroponic set-up’. Police found dehumidifiers, cannabis-growing instructions on the wall, and electricity coming in via a system that bypassed the meter.
Bridges was served with a 40-week prison sentence, suspended for two years, when the court heard his youngest child was born prematurely in July this year and there are ongoing complications with the boy’s health.
Richard Adams, defending, said: “The prognosis of this little boy is difficult. Mr Bridges has been integral in terms of that little boy’s care. He concedes that the offending itself is an act of foolishness.”
Judge Goldsack told Bridges: “You lost your job, you decided to grow your own cannabis rather than paying dealers, you did your research on it.
“This is the sort of offending for which courts are imposing immediate custodial sentences, almost without exception. But it is quite clear you are taking a very substantial role in helping that child survive - and it is out of compassion for him that I give you a suspended sentence.”
Bridges was also ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work, after the judge warned him: “You will not get a second chance.”
POLICE in South Yorkshire have seized cannabis with a street value of more than £40 million in the last five years - making it the drug found most commonly by officers in the county.
Cannabis factories of all grades - from sophisticated set-ups where entire houses are converted into growing dens, to individuals tending a handful of plants in spare bedrooms - are discovered by officers on an almost daily basis.
In Sheffield officers executed a dawn raid and found 512 plants worth £300,000 growing in a mid-terrace property on Sharrow Street, Sharrow. Cannabis plants were growing in every room of the three-bedroom house.
And in raids across Doncaster, drug farms were found in Balby, Hexthorpe and Wheatley. Police seized over 700 plants with a street value of £190,500.
Police chiefs say they have a ‘zero tolerance approach’ to cannabis farms and, once good information is received, raids will be ordered to seize the crops before criminals have chance to sell them on.
n Call South Yorkshire Police on 0114 220 2020 to report drug suspicions.
PROLIFIC offender Barrington Broomfield was denied any more second chances when he appeared at court - and was locked up for six months for producing cannabis.
The 23-year-old, of Woodfarm Close, Stannington, was late for his appearance at Sheffield Crown Court - because he had been arrested for violent disorder.
The court heard Broomfield had previous convictions relating to cocaine, heroin and cannabis dating back to 2005 when he was 17.
He admitted producing and possessing cannabis with intent to supply.
Recorder Michael Hubbard QC told Sheffield Crown Court: “He’s been at it for years.”
And he told Broomfield: “There comes a point where courts can’t continually shut their eyes to what you are up to.
“Every year since 2005, with the exception of 2009, you have been before the courts and convicted of offences relating to cannabis. Every year. You are only 23 now. I’d be failing in my duty if I didn’t send you to prison immediately.”
The court heard police raided Broomfield’s home in December and January. Both times they found cannabis - a total haul of 80 bags and three plants, with a street value of £1,800.
In the first search of Broomfield’s maisonette police found plants and a hydroponic growing system in a bedroom cupboard. An officer saw a window closing at the back of the property, and noticed a cardboard box had been dropped on to a ledge beneath the window.
Two ‘wraps’ of cannabis had blown to the ground and when the box was recovered the police found cannabis with an estimated street value of £410 inside.
More of the drug was found in the freezer and there were traces too on electronic scales. Text messages asking for drugs were found on Broomfield’s mobile phone.
In the second raid, with Broomfield still on bail after the first, police arrived to find him trying to flush drugs down the toilet. A total of 25 wraps were found.
And in February and July Broomfield was fined for possessing cannabis.
Dominic Shelley, defending, said Broomfield had a ‘substantial dependency’.
He said: “He began to smoke a large amount of cannabis a day, to relax and get through the day without a problem.”
He added that for the first time, Broomfield, now of Netherthorpe Street, Netherthorpe, had asked for help with his problems.
But Recorder Hubbard said: “I don’t think much of the boy, frankly. One would have thought he might have learnt his lesson.”
The court ordered the destruction of the cannabis which was seized.