A YOUNG businessman ran a cannabis factory under the cover of his fledgling auto spares shop, a court heard.
When police officers raided the industrial unit they found a hidden drug factory behind a partition with cannabis plants growing that could have made up to £15,000 on the streets.
Cannabis smoker Luke Stevenson, aged 22, was jailed for 14 months after he admitted producing the Class B drug in a unit on the Spencer Park Industrial Estate, Greasbrough Street, Rotherham.
Neil Coxon, prosecuting, told Sheffield Crown Court police raided his shop in March and found three rooms containing sophisticated growing equipment.
One contained six cannabis seedlings, a second room contained nine plants and a third, more equipment.
Stevenson told police he owned the shop but it was not doing well and claimed the cannabis was for personal use.
Jim Baird, for Stevenson, said he had been a regular cannabis smoker for two years since he broke his leg playing football.
He said it was not production on a commercial scale and he did not do it for financial gain.
He said Stevenson was a hard worker who had never been in trouble before and set up his own business at 21 but the business had failed to thrive.
Stevenson had business debts of £10,000, his car had been repossessed and he owed more than £1,500 in rent.
The court was told was robbed in Pitsmoor when trying to buy the drug so decided to grow his own.
Judge Graham Robinson said there was a ‘degree of sophistication’ to his factory, adding: “It was plainly more than pure domestic own consumption.”
He said drug-growing was ‘serious criminal activity’ adding: “There is evidence to show cannabis has long-term psychological effects and increasingly it is seen as a real social menace by those who do not use it.”