‘Bankrupt’ Castlecaulfield man allowed premises to be used as Cannabis factory

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

‘Bankrupt’ Castlecaulfield man allowed premises to be used as Cannabis factory thumbnailPolice outside the farm buildings at Reaskcor Road, Castlecaulfield in May 2013.

A "BANKRUPT" Castlecaulfield man has been given a nine months jail sentence, suspended for two years for allowing his premises to be used as a Cannabis factory.

Fifty-five-year-old Thomas William Carson, Fort Hill Farm, Reaskcor Road, pleaded guilty to a charge that he permitted his premises to be used for the production of Cannabis, on 13th May, 2013, at Dungannon Magistrate's Court.

The court was told that when Police searched one of his outbuildings, he ran away into fields before they detained him.

A Prosecutor told the court that Police went to search one of the defendant's outbuildings on information received. They found another man in the outbuilding who had let himself into the building.

This was another defendant who was already dealt with and given a suspended jail sentence after he pleaded guilty to attempting to possess Cannabis, a plea that was accepted by the Crown.

The Cannabis factory in the outbuilding was of "substantial size" and was a short distance from Carson's home in a rural area, the court heard. The defendant was seen running from his home. When initially questioned by Police, he initially denied any knowledge of the Cannabis factory.

A man had rented the outbuilding from him.

But the defendant must have known that something was going on as a number of people were coming and going from the outbuilding.

‘It was too obvious to miss", the Prosecutor told the court.

The defendant had no previous record.

A defence counsel said his client had never been in court before or had any allegation of criminality levelled against him. The defendant was coming before the court "in somewhat tragic circumstances at his stage of his life" for an offence that could carry a period of custody.

Counsel said the co-defendant had been shown clemency. He added that there was no suggestion that the defendant was in any way involved in the planning or set up of the Cannabis factory. The defendant "was and is a lorry driver who spent a lot of time away from his premises".

An opportunity arose and he "ill advisedly allowed his premises to be used, turning a blind eye".

The nature of what went on in the outbuilding was beyond the defendant's knowledge but that "did not excuse his wrong doing", the court heard.

The defendant had made an early plea of guilt for an incident that happened in May 2013, three-and-a-half years ago and it had been hanging over him in the interim.

He co-operated with the Police from the outset and was originally told by the authorities that there would be no action taken against him.

But they later changed their mind, the court was told. The defendant was not the cause of the delay in the case. He was said to be a man with no criminal background who took part in "opportunistic venture" hoping to get a few pounds.

Counsel said his client was currently the subject of a bankruptcy matter and there were different proceedings concerning the re-possession of the outhouse and his own home.

The defendant had paid a very heavy burden.

A report from his GP showed that he had suffered from depression as a result of these events and he had not come to the attention of Police in the interim, either.

Counsel asked the court to take into account his client's early plea and contended Carson was not a primary player in setting up the Cannabis factory. Counsel asked the court to consider a suspended sentence rather than immediate custody for his client.

Sentencing the defendant, Judge Stephen Fowler said that when questioned by Police, the defendant said he had rented the premises to a third party who said it was for storing furniture.

The defendant was paid £50 per week.

“It was a case of turning a blind eye and not concerning himself with what was going on," the Judge said.

But the defendant was aware of "the use to which his premises was being put".

The Judge said he was giving the defendant credit for an early plea and the delay in the case was not of the defendant's making.

It was also clear that he had not gained significantly from the incident and there were no trappings of wealth or material that would suggest he "was benefiting from this operation".

It seemed to be the case that he was now bankrupt and the subject of repossession matters, it was claimed in court.

His health had suffered also, but he was the author of this aspect of the matter.

The Judge said the custody threshold had been passed, but in view of all the circumstances he was jailing the defendant for nine months, but suspended the sentence for two years.

The Judge also made a destruction order for the drugs and associated paraphernalia.


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