Former “Shameless” TV star given suspended prison sentence for cannabis production

Picture : Lorne Campbell / Guzelian'Actor Jody Latham  leaves Burnley Crown Court, Burnley, Lancashire, on Monday, after receiving a suspended sentence after pleading guilty to growing 24 cannabis plants at an address in Bacup, Lancashire.'PICTURE TAKEN ON MONDAY 17 DECEMBER 2012
Picture : Lorne Campbell / Guzelian'Actor Jody Latham leaves Burnley Crown Court, Burnley, Lancashire, on Monday, after receiving a suspended sentence after pleading guilty to growing 24 cannabis plants at an address in Bacup, Lancashire.'PICTURE TAKEN ON MONDAY 17 DECEMBER 2012

FORMER “Shameless” and “Eastenders” actor Jody Latham wept in the dock when he was sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for two years, after admitting producing cannabis.

Latham (29) was visibly shaken when Judge Beverley Lunt read out the sentence at Burnley Crown Court, but his tears turned to relief when she added the custody would be suspended. The judge also ordered the former Barrowford man to carry out 100 hours community work.

His co-defendant Sarah Melia, of Cotman Close, Bacup, was ordered to complete 40 hours of community service.

Latham, of Market Street, Bacup, played the part of Lip Gallagher in the hit television series “Shameless”.

He had earlier admitted to growing 16 mature and 11 immature cannabis plants at Melia’s former home in Acre Mill Road, Stacksteads, between March and May last year.

The actor, who grew up in Colne and attended Walton High and Park High, claimed he grew cannabis at home because his celebrity status meant he could not buy the drug from street dealers.

His barrister Mr Wayne Jackson said: “My client accepts he has been a very foolish young man putting his promising career at risk.

“He has been in television, film and music videos. He has been using cannabis since he was 16, but has not had any since these proceedings began. He is waiting to start treatment at The Priory for his addiction.”

Sentencing, Judge Lunt said: “You know full well there can be no justification for your actions. You believe you are a celebrity and this could cause problems buying from dealers.

“You should not be taking cannabis at all. You admit the amount you grew was for yourself and friends, but it was grown in a house where three young children stayed.

“Let me be very clear that if you do this again you will be jailed.”

Judge Lunt added she was satisfied that Melia was working under the influence of ex-boyfriend Latham and would not commit the offence again. But she added that Melia had a responsibility to her three young children.