Arrested OAP ‘thought cannabis was tomato plants’

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A Doncaster pensioner arrested for growing cannabis told police he thought he had bought some tomato plants.

Thomas Booker, aged 66, was interested in growing tomatoes and claimed he bought growing materials from some men in a Mexborough lay-by.

He went back later to buy plants from the men and had fed and watered the crop and only later found out later it was cannabis.

Booker, formerly of Newark Road, Mexborough was arrested by police who found 18 plants at his home worth more than £16,000 of street value.

David Wain, prosecuting at Sheffield Crown Court, said the plants, with a potential yield of 1.62 kilograms, were found in two rooms along with the equipment.

Booker, of Braithwell Walk, Conisbrough, later changed his story and admitted producing cannabis.

Richard Thyne, mitigating, said Booker used the drug for pain relief.

The court heard much of Booker’s past offending was historic and not drug-related.

Mr Recorder David Osborne, the judge, said of the growing set-up: “It was relatively professional and had a commercial aspect to it.”

He told Booker: “Your initial explanation was somewhat fanciful, but you have had the good sense to break away from it in time for today. You are now 66. It is time for you to retire from this kind of work.”

Booker was given a 12-month jail term, suspended for 18 months.

He was also ordered to carry out 80 hours of unpaid work.