Depressed one-time successful Burnley hairdresser lands in court for alowing his home to be used to grow cannabis plants
A one-time successful hairdresser, who got hooked on cannabis in a psychiatric unit, had 24 plants of the drug growing at his house in Burnley, a court heard.
Depressed Daniel Leighton was arrested after police raided his home and told officers he had been paid £2,000 to allow the cultivation to take place.
The town's magistrates were told how 48-year-old Leighton of Manchester Road, Burnley, had suffered mental health problems and ended up in hospital after his marriage failed.
He said he thought eight plants were being grown and told a probation officer the agreement was he would receive half of the drugs for nothing. Leighton claimed he had felt intimidated into going along with the operation and was 'shocked and sickened' by the size of it.
Miss Rachael Yarwood, prosecuting, said police went to the defendant's home because of a strong smell of cannabis. They executed a warrant and he was arrested.
Leighton was questioned and made full and frank admissions. He said the plants weren't his, but he knew they were there. She added:" There was nothing further than him growing the cannabis at his property."
Mr Nick Dearing, defending, said Leighton had been 'cuckooed' which refers to a form of crime in which drug dealers take over the home of a vulnerable person in order to use it as a base for their activities.
The court heard that the defendant formerly ran a successful hairdressing business with his wife and it had been doing well.
Unfortunately, he had spiralled downwards and suffered from psychiatric problems after his marriage broke down in 2015. The solicitor told the court: "Whilst in a mental health hospital he was introduced by other patients to cannabis and developed a regular habit."
Mr Dearing said the defendant understood the crop would be small adding: "At the time he was trying to rebuild his marriage.
"He went back about a month later and found the grow substantially greater than he thought.
"He went to try and speak to the people apparently behind the operation. He was warned not to interfere with the grow, it was staying where it was and was told if he knew what was good for him he would do exactly what was said."
Mr Dearing added:"He has been involved through naivety and a degree of exploitation. He has been genuinely fearful about repercussions and didn't know what to do next.
"There is no suggestion this gentleman benefited in any way at all. He is someone who has been duped and he's been too scared to work out what to do next."
The solicitor said Leighton, who was on benefits, hoped to use his hairdressing skills to do charity work. He was accompanied at court by his estranged wife, who was offering support. Mr Dearing added:" She says as long as he makes the effort to reform himself and sort himself out she will continue to offer that."
A probation officer, who interviewed Leighton, said:"He told me he didn't benefit financially from the operation.
"He is relieved it is now out in the open. He had not used drugs until he went in a mental health unit and has not used cannabis since his arrest in February."
The defendant, of Manchester Road, Burnley, admitted being concerned in the production of cannabis on February 19th. Leighton, who had no previous convictions, was given a six -month community order with 10 rehabilitation days. He was fined £120, with £85 costs and an £85 victim surcharge.