An ex-cocaine addict who was forced to grow cannabis by his drug dealer after running up debts of £5,000 has narrowly avoided going to jail.
Richard Cousans, aged 26, was caught with 42 skunk cannabis plants – which would have yielded drugs with an estimated street value of £37,800 – at his home on Wellington Road, Edlington, Sheffield Crown Court heard.
Louise Gallagher, prosecuting, said Cousans was caught after police raided the terraced home he shared with his girlfriend in February.
Officers found the plants at different levels of maturity along with a ‘comprehensive’ cannabis growing set up which included lights, thermometers, extractor fans, ducting and cardboard covered windows. They recovered 3.7 kilos of skunk.
Cousans told police he owed a drug dealer £5,000 and had been assaulted by him in September 2013 because he had struggled to repay the debt.
Threats were made to his family so he moved house but the dealer tracked him down.
Miss Gallagher said he told police the dealer had demanded the keys to his home and when he returned two days later, the cannabis farm had been set up inside.
“He was given instructions on how to feed and water the plants every day.”
Cousans admitted producing the Class B drug.
Laura Marshall, defending, said he had been forced into it.
Cousans breathed a sign of relief as the judge told him he would suspend the four month jail term for two years.
He must also carry out 200 hours of unpaid work and be on a four-month night-time curfew.