An international welder who had two Burnley cannabis farms, producing drugs potentially worth more than £72,000 on the streets, has been jailed for two-and-half years.
Michal Piec (31), had claimed he was forced into it by a “massive” debt collector who had put a gun to his head.
He had told the town’s crown court he feared for his life after the man said he was going to grow the drug in his (Piec’s) bedroom to pay off a debt. Piec, who was born in Poland, said he had borrowed £25,000 towards a house but had been struggling to find the £1,042 a month repayment.
He claimed the man set up the equipment at his home and another property, came every second day to tend to the plants and was a “cannabis expert.” Piec had alleged: “If I refused him, he says he’s going to kill me.”
The hearing was told police acting on intelligence found the two large cannabis farms, one at the defendant’s £127,000 three storey townhouse on Straight Mile Court, Burnley, and the other, for which he had the key, at an unoccupied terrace property on Granville Street.
Piec had admitted allegations of producing cannabis last July. He had no previous convictions. A trial over the facts was held after the prosecution told the court it was a commercial operation for financial gain, he played a significant role and must have been cropping the plants when police arrived.
Judge Andrew Woolman said he believed that Piec had been in debt but rejected the rest of his claims.