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Darlington cannabis grower escapes jail - for being honest
A DRUG grower caught with a substantial crop in his home walked free from court today - for being honest.
Kevin Shields was stinking of dope when he was stopped in the street and asked by a police officer: "You have a grow in your house don't you?"
Shields led police straight to his home in Beaconsfield Street, Darlington, and a total of 54 cannabis plants were found inside, said prosecutor Sue Jacobs.
She told Teesside Crown Court that the 31-year-old said the drugs were all for himself and that it would take him six months to smoke it.
Judge Howard Crowson was initially suspicious about the claim, but said somebody who made money from dealing would not be so honest.
"Commercial cannabis growers rarely invite police into their homes," he said. "I am satisfied this was for your benefit and nobody else.
"I see quite a lot of cannabis production come before me at this court, and some of it has many of the features that your case had.
"What you should appreciate is that much of what you have done in terms of growing cannabis is also consistent with commercial dealing.
"Commercial cannabis growers go to prison, there is no other alternative, when they come before me. It is necessary people understand that.
"If that's what I felt the evidence showed, you would go to prison. The evidence in this case supports the contrary.
"Because the police believed what you said, I'm prepared to deal with you on that basis. I am satisfied it is an unusual case."
Shields was given a community order with 12 months' supervision and 100 hours of unpaid work after he admitted producing and possessing Class B drugs.
The court heard that there were no dealer lists, bags, scales or cash found in his home, and there was no evidence of dealing on his mobile phone.
His lawyer, Jonathan Harley, said it was the first time Shields had tried growing cannabis and had no idea the yield would be so high.
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