Burnley dad converted old dairy into potential £20,000 cannabis factory

editorial image

A FORMER security consultant who turned an outhouse at his Burnley home into a potential £20,000 cannabis factory has been given a suspended prison sentence.

Father-of-two Christopher Thompson (37) converted part of an old dairy into a sophisticated set-up, where police who raided the premises found 18 plants growing and more than 2.2kg of harvested cannabis.

Thompson, a former crack-cocaine addict and then a heavy cannabis user with a £150-a-week habit, was said to have been growing the drugs for himself, but would also have supplied to others.

At the time, he had been a house husband for his Oxford graduate forensic accountant wife, and had become bored and depressed, Burnley Crown Court heard.

Thompson, whose marriage broke down because of what he had done, admitted producing cannabis.

The defendant, who now works for B and M Bargains in Burnley, was given 12 months in prison, suspended for two years, with 250 hours’ unpaid work. He had no previous convictions. A proceeds of crime hearing will be held next year.

Robert Golinski (prosecuting) said that police searched the defendant’s home, in Red Lees Road, in July last year, and found the cannabis plants in a detached outbuilding.

They also discovered more than a kilo of cannabis which was drying on layered netting shelves. The plants had ventilation, a water butt, fans and lighting.

The total amount of harvested cannabis was more than 2.2kg, and in addition to the 18 plants, the drugs could have been worth more than £20,000 on the streets.

Officers also seized £1,000 in cash from a cloakroom and a set of digital scales.

Jonathan Archer (defending) said that Thompson had used cannabis for more than 20 years, but not before July last year had he resorted to growing it himself.

He had been cultivating the plants in soil or compost, not hydroponically and had never sold any drugs or abstracted electricity. The £1,000 cash was for a bed.

Mr Archer said that Thompson, who was now drug-free and helped others to overcome addictions, had taken 12 months out of his career in 2001 to try to break his habit.

He had been led down the path of growing cannabis because he had a £150-a-week habit. The barrister added: “And how he wishes he hadn’t been led down that path.”

Mr Archer, who said the defendant’s partner, a law graduate, was also in court, as well as his former wife, added: “He has lost his family life. His marriage broke down as a result of this. He has to live with the shame he has brought upon his family.”

Judge Jonathan Gibson told Thompson there was no evidence he was or had been a drug dealer.