Drug man ruined flat

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Courts: Reports from the law courts.
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A MAN who rented a flat and wrecked it when he turned it into a cannabis factory has been jailed.

Keval Kotecha caused hundreds of pounds’ worth of damage to the bedsit in Addison Road, Mexborough, when he knocked holes in doors and ceilings to install his growing equipment, a court heard.

But it was the value of the cannabis he harvested that most interested police when they raided the premises in September of last year.

Brian Outhwaite, prosecuting at Doncaster Crown Court, said it was an unusual case in that police found the finished product rather than growing plants when they executed the search warrant.

The 18 cannabis plants were suspended from the ceiling to be dried and the weight of 1.76kgs would have been worth more than £10,000 to 24-year-old Kotecha, who formerly lived in Thomas Street, Mexborough.

Police also found damage had been caused to the door, floor, wall, windows, carpets and ceiling of the property, costing landlady Lynn Poole a total of £850, said Mr Outhwaite.

Kotecha pleaded guilty to charges of producing cannabis and criminal damage but insisted the drug was for his own personal use.

A separate court hearing earlier this month ended in a judge ruling that the cannabis production involved an element of commercial supply, which made it a more serious offence.

That case resulted in a 15- month prison sentence for the defendant, who has no previous convictions but was cautioned last year for possession of cocaine.

His barrister, Michael Cane-Soothill, said Kotecha had led a law-abiding life until he started to use cannabis and his ‘consumption engaged him in criminality and made him willing to takes risks’.

Mr Cane-Soothill said: “He should be looking forward to a bright future, not a prison sentence.

“It has been a salutary and harsh lesson for him, he is not criminally sophisticated and is going to find custody difficult.

“He’s going to sit there and fret, he has brought disrepute on his family and he has lost his job.”

Mr Cane-Soothill said there had been no previous crops and no subsequent ones had been planned.

Before sentencing, Judge Jacqueline Davies read references in support of the defendant from his father and his former employer, who had said there might be the chance of a job again when he is released.

She told Kotecha: “You had damaged that property to facilitate this operation and your offending behaviour can only be considered to be financially motivated. As you know, you must go to custody.”