Man who ran cannabis factory near Sheffield junior school is jailed

A man who admitted to running a cannabis factory just yards away from a Sheffield primary school has been jailed for over three years.
A man who admitted to running a cannabis factory just yards away from a Sheffield primary school has been jailed for over three years.
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A man who admitted to running a cannabis factory just yards away from a Sheffield primary school has been jailed for over three years.

Sheffield Crown Court was told how officers patrolling in Malin Bridge on February 2, 2015 were informed by a member of the public that there was a strong smell of cannabis emanating from a property at the end of Meredith Road.

The officers began making door-to-door enquiries, and were told by several residents on the street that they had also detected the smell of cannabis at number 34 on the street - a property located a short distance from Malin Bridge Junior School.

They parked their patrol car outside the property, and their attention was soon drawn to a man walking down the street by the name of Christopher Hall, 42, who officers noted appeared 'visibly startled' by their presence.

Prosecuting, Zaiban Alam, said: "His manner, when answering, was contradictory. He said he was on the road to visit an ex-girlfriend, and then said he was going to buy a sandwich.

"He then said he didn't know anyone living at that end of the street."

Hall, of Old School Croft, Wharncliffe Side was arrested by officers shortly afterwards, and under questioning he admitted to owning the property.

Officers then went to search the property, which was answered by tenant John Naughton, 52.

They discovered a package on the radiator in the living room, containing 114 grams of cocaine, with a high purity of 71 per cent - which was estimated to have a street value of around £9,280.

On searching more of the property they discovered what Ms Alam described as a 'cannabis factory' on the first floor of the property with three large plants, just one week away from maturity, as well as a large drying room in the attic.

Officers were able to tell that despite the fact the cannabis plants had not reached maturity by the time of the raid, a substantial amount had already been harvested and most likely sold on.

It was estimated that around 2.282kg of cannabis had been made through the factory, with a street value of approximately £25,000.

Naughton, of Firshill Rise, Shirecliffe was arrested following the raid.

Hall admitted to one count of permitting a premises to be used for the production of a Class B drug at an earlier hearing, while Naughton pleaded guilty to a string of drug-related charges including possession of a Class A drug with intent to supply and production of a Class B drug.

Sentencing Naughton to 40 months in prison, Recorder David Preston said: "This is clearly a case where only an immediate custodial sentence can be imposed.

"Drugs, as I'm sure you both know, cause misery. Not only to users, but to innocent people who are the victims of burglaries and thefts committed by drug takers in order to fund their habit."

Recorder Preston ordered Hall to complete 200 hours of unpaid work, and handed him a 12 month community order.