Incompetent cannabis grower walks free from court

AN incompetent cannabis grower has walked free after a court heard of his unsuccessful attempts at cultivating drugs.

Former bar manager Jonathan Neil (correct) succumbed to criminality after his business failed and he was declared bankrupt.

His amateurish efforts to grow cannabis were discovered when police raided an industrial unit in Tod Point Road, Redcar, in January, after reports of a burglary in progress.

On arrival, officers found not burglars, but 32-year-old Neil dismantling the cannabis farm he had helped develop, prosecutor Harry Hadfield told Teesside Crown Court.

Dozens of plants were seized, along with associated paraphernalia.

Mr Hadfield said the equipment was enough to sustain a moderate-sized cannabis farm, yielding thousands of pounds worth of drugs a year.

He said: "The equipment was there, the ability was not."

Neil, who had no previous convictions, admitted producing a class B drug, on the basis that he had not profited from the operation.

He was handed a 15-month jail sentence, suspended for two years and ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work.

Sarah Barlow, mitigating, said Neil, of Bridge End, Leeds, was attempting to rebuild his life and had gone into business with his cousin, producing iPhone covers for use by people taking part in extreme sports.

She said: "He plays a big part in his family life, they have many business enterprises in the North-East.

"He helps with that and with the care of his elderly grandmother.

"If ever there was a contender for a suspended sentence, this man is perhaps it."

Judge Les Spittle told Neil: "You are an incompetent cannabis farmer, you did not have a clue what to do."

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