War veteran jailed over drugs farm

Court Reports: All the latest top stories from Crown Court and Magistrates hearings throughout South Yorkshire.
Court Reports: All the latest top stories from Crown Court and Magistrates hearings throughout South Yorkshire.
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A FORMER soldier who started smoking cannabis to combat pain after he was seriously injured during the Russian occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s has been jailed for growing £20,000 worth of the drug.

When police raided 46-year-old Said Musali’s flat they found 90 cannabis plants with an estimated street value of between £15,500 and £28,800.

The officers also discovered a sophisticated watering system.

Sheffield Crown Court heard Musali, a Russian national originally from Azerbaijan, became addicted to the drug in the 1980s.

The court was told he took it for pain relief after he was hospitalised for serious injuries received in the Afghanistan conflict.

Elizabeth Martin, prosecuting, said when police raided the flat in Hoyland, Barnsley, they found a sophisticated hydroponics system in two rooms.

When arrested Musali told police he was a ‘gardener’.

He told them that he watered the plants and got free board, food and cannabis for his addiction in return for his efforts.

Jobless Musali admitted producing cannabis and possessing it with intent to supply.

Tarlowchan Dubb, defending, said Musali, who has since moved to Holme Lane, Grenoside, Sheffield, came to the UK in 1998 and in 2004 was granted indefinite leave to remain.

He said: “He was given a suspended jail term for cultivating cannabis in November 2006.

“He was addicted to cannabis but could not afford his consumption.

“He is at low risk of reoffending and has made significant efforts to give up the drug.”

Jailing him for two years, Judge Alan Goldsack QC said: “Your job was to look after the drugs so they could be harvested and sold.

“You are involved in a fairly substantial commercial enterprise for producing and selling drugs.”