SIXTEEN cannabis growers were sentenced in the last of three special court hearings which saw more than 45 criminals punished in one of the biggest crackdowns on the drug Sheffield has seen.
Judge Peter Kelson QC yesterday jailed 14 drug-growers and handed two others suspended prison terms or community orders at Sheffield Crown Court.
He also issued a stark warning that people who produce cannabis plants are likely to be locked up following new legal guidance from Court of Appeal judges.
Judge Kelson said: “Everybody who becomes involved in cannabis production is either going to go to prison or come within a whisker of going to prison.”
Unless stated, the offenders admitted producing cannabis.
Gerald Churm, aged 48, was caught growing 42 cannabis plants in two tents in his attic, which would have produced up to £16,800 worth of drugs.
Churm told police it was ‘cheaper to grow it than go out and buy it’, and said he was being paid £1,000 by four men to cultivate the plants.
He claimed he was going to put the cash towards a vasectomy reversal.
Martin Grubb, 53, was involved in a ‘full-blown cannabis supply enterprise’, the court heard, growing four plants and keeping bags of frozen drugs in his freezer. He also admitted possession with intent to supply.
Factory worker Gregory Sandy, 37, said he turned to growing cannabis, producing up to £18,680 worth of drugs in his loft.
Meanwhile scaffolder Liam Winter, 28, produced 10 plants using a ‘very successful set-up’ in his home. Winter, who started using cannabis aged 11, also admitted possessing an offensive weapon after a stun gun was found in a drawer underneath his bed.
Kyle Harrison, 25, grew 12 plants in two bedrooms at his house, producing more than £3,000 worth of drugs. The convicted robber and burglar planned to give his surplus cannabis to dealers to pay off debts.
Former bakery worker Ghader Mohemedi, 36, produced up to a kilo of skunk cannabis after moving to the UK from Iran claiming political asylum, while 50-year-old alcoholic Mark Shore grew 14 plants in a back bedroom.
Shore said he used the cannabis for pain relief by crumbling the drug onto his food and eating it.
Patrick Watt, 45, was caught cultivating 15 cannabis plants in a tent. Watt, who was previously convicted of growing 69 plants, stood to make £6,000 from his new crop.
Mum-of-three Elizabeth Carty, 25, grew up to £12,000 worth of cannabis in a special room in the foundations of her house, which could be entered through a trap door, and Andrew Fisher, 31, produced three-quarters of a kilo of drugs of which he planned to sell small amounts.
Gary Lucas, 49, confronted police with a machete and bared his teeth when officers raided his home and found 10 cannabis plants. As well as producing cannabis, Lucas admitted threatening behaviour and tampering with his electricity meter.
Mum-of-two Natalie Robinson, 41, admitted permitting premises to be used for producing cannabis. She rented out her loft and two bedrooms to cannabis growers, tending to 30 plants.
When police asked her why she became involved, she said: “It’s the new thing that people are doing now, they’re renting rooms out for people to grow in - it would be easier than renting a room out to a lodger.”
Scott Denton, 32, was spared a jail term for producing cannabis and abstracting electricity, while James Mawi, 23, also escaped jail for growing the Class B drug.
Out-of-work plasterer Andrew Firth, 44, grew up to £8,400 worth of cannabis at his semi-detached home, and claimed he used £200 of the drug every week. He also admitted tampering with his electricity meter.
Dean Addy, 32, breached a suspended sentence by producing cannabis, and was also caught driving over the legal limit.