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East Durham couple turned to cannabis growing to make ends meet after losing jobs
A COUPLE turned to cannabis farming “to make ends meet” after losing their jobs shortly before Christmas, a court heard.
Kelly Louise Bayles and Gareth Peter Tomlinson were advised to limit the growth to only a dozen plants to avoid attracting police attention.
But police did visit their home, at the time, in a first floor flat in Burdon Court, Horden, County Durham, on January 10.
Durham Crown Court heard that officers found 11 plants in pots, under lighting, in a tented growth area in a small rear room.
They also discovered 50 plastic bags filled with cannabis leaf, plus £817.14 in cash.
Chris Baker, prosecuting, told the court the bagged cannabis had a saleable value of £396, while the plants, if harvested, would fetch an estimated £2,828 in street sale values.
Mr Baker said messages on a mobile phone, also seized by police, “were clearly indicative they were involved in drug dealing.”
Bayles and Tomlinson were arrested and told police that having lost their jobs on the run up to Christmas they were struggling to pay bills.
A friend, therefore, offered to give them equipment for cannabis growing, on the basis they halved the crop.
Tomlinson told police the growth went well and customers commented on the high quality of the cannabis.
Bayles, 20, and 21-year-old Tomlinson, both now of Alisha Vale, Easington Colliery, of previous good character, admitted possessing cannabis with intent to supply.
Ron Mitchell, mitigating, told the court: “If not for their immediate admissions they could have argued the growth was for personal use.
“Both were naive when losing their jobs just before Christmas and took entirely the wrong option to make ends meet.
“They’re certainly not professional drug dealers, or anything like that.”
Mr Mitchell added that both are now back in work.
Judge Stephen Ashurst said it was fortunate their activities were “nipped in the bud” by the timing of the police raid.
But he said he could avoid imposing immediate custodial sentences in both cases due to the “low risk” of re-offending.
Both were given six month terms, suspended for a year, but must undergo 150-hours’ unpaid work.
Judge Ashurst also made a deprivation order for the £817 recovered in the raid.