Cannabis farm was to pay off debts to a loan shark

A Queensbury man let cannabis plants be grown in a garden shed because of a debt to a loan shark.

Bradford Crown Court heard police officers visited Tom Jowett’s home in Old Thornton Road in March after a tip-off and found nearly 90 plants being grown in the shed.

Prosecutor Ewan McLachlan said the shed had been lined with reflective material and contained high-powered lights, transformers, fans and bottles of plant food.

A forensic scientist suggested the operation could have produced around 3.26kg of cannabis based on average yields per plant and could have produced a crop worth at leat £27,000 on the streets. Jowett, 36, told police that he had not been involved in setting up the system or growing the plants.

He said he had borrowed £2,000 from someone he described as a loan shark and was charged extortionate interest and his debt had spiralled out of control. Mr McLaclan said: “He said the loan shark then said that if he agreed to the growing of cannabis that would expunge his need to make any more payments on the loan debt. The loan shark had then arranged for the shed to be built in the garden.”

Nicholas Leadbeater, mitigating, said Jowett knew cannabis was being grown in the shed, but he had no involvement with it. Recorder Michael Smith said Jowett had got himself into a “hopeless financial mess” and the way out was to allow people to grow cannabis in the shed.

Jowett had pleaded guilty to a charge of being concerned in the production of cannabis and Recorder Smith said his prison sentence of six months could be suspended for a year, and ordered him to do 150 hours’ unpaid work.