'Cannabis obsessed' scaffolder lands builder dad in court when he grows more than 100 plants in house he was renovating

A man who appeared before Burnley magistrates, where he admitted producing cannabis, committed to be sentenced at the town's crown court at a later date.
A man who appeared before Burnley magistrates, where he admitted producing cannabis, committed to be sentenced at the town's crown court at a later date.
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A 'cannabis-obsessed' scaffolder, growing more than 100 plants in a Burnley house, landed his builder dad, who was employed to renovate it, in a police probe, a court heard.

Darren Whittaker took over the bedrooms and the lounge of the property in Burnley to grow the plants, and neither the owner of the property or the defendant's own dad, Steven Whittaker, the only other person with a key, knowing.

When officers found out about the drugs and raided the house on Monday, March 4th, his dad, also a scaffolder, became a suspect, but his son then went to the police station and owned up.

The town's magistrates were told how 21-year-old Whittaker had been spending over £600 a month- most of his wages- on cannabis.

He maintained the drugs would be solely for his own use and told officers he thought he would only have got 25 plants to grow.

Whittaker had 42 plants in a tent in the front room, 45 in the front upstairs bedroom and 25 were in the back bedroom.

The estimated yield from the plants would have been about 4,480 grammes of cannabis and Whittaker could now be facing a jail term.

Mrs Tracy Yates, prosecuting, said police executed a warrant at a property on Godiva Street. It was under renovation and Steven Whittaker had been employed by the owner and he had a key.

Police received information about cannabis at the house and recovered 112 plants.

The prosecutor added: " Arrangements were made for Steven Whittaker to attend the police station as when a statement was obtained from the home owner she said he was the only person with a key.

"However, his son presented himself on the 15th and admitted full responsibility."

Mrs Yates told the hearing the defendant was interviewed and said he used about an ounce of cannabis a week.

Whittaker said he had got in the house as he had taken over the work at the property from his father who was on another job. His dad was not aware of what had been going on.

The defendant told police he had been growing the plants for several weeks.

Mrs Yates went on:" He said he brought the equipment from Gumtree and the seeds from the internet for £50.

"He said he fed and watered the plants and when asked if he was going to sell any of the cannabis, he said 'no.'

"He said nobody had put him under any pressure and it was for his own personal use."

A probation officer who interviewed the defendant, who formerly lived in London, told the hearing he intended to keep only the female plants and felt only only a quarter of those would have been productive.

He had been spending £160 a week on cannabis.

The officer said:" He took the regrettable decision to cultivate it to save money.

"He very much regrets his actions. He told me he thought it was a stupid mistake.

"He thought his return to the North West would bring his life back on track. He feels now he has taken a step backwards and put his liberty in jeopardy today. It was not financially motivated."

The court heard Whittaker led a positive lifestyle. He worked, went to the gym, enjoyed boxing and visited family and close friends.

The officer continued:" At the time, he was smoking a considerable amount of cannabis on a daily basis, but he has not now used any for over a month.

" He told me he realised it was making him anti-social and costing him money he did not have. He referred to it as an obsession."

The defendant of Gorple Street, Burnley, admitted producing cannabis and was committed to be sentenced at the town's crown court at a later date.