Pubdate: Thu, 15 Sep 2011
Source: Star, The (Sheffield , UK)
Copyright: 2011 Sheffield Newspapers


SHEFFIELD'S top judge has issued a stark warning to anyone caught
growing cannabis in South Yorkshire - immediate prison awaits.

The judge said the number of cases of production of the Class B drug
was on the rise, and he was dealing with three or four at court every
single day.

Many defendants were unaware they would be jailed immediately, he said
- - even if it was their first court appearance, they had no previous
convictions, and they were growing the drug for their own use.

Judge Goldsack told one defendant: "Six out of the 14 cases on my list
this morning involve producing cannabis on various scales."

And he added a guideline case at the Court of Appeal earlier this year
ruled sentences for cannabis-growing "should be higher than they had
been", and should "always result in immediate imprisonment unless
there are exceptional circumstances".

"The Court of Appeal - putting it in simple language - has said the
courts have got to get tougher on this," he said.

"Cannabis is a dangerous drug and those who bring it into existence
must be punished."

Among those jailed at Sheffield Crown Court were:

- - Property developer [Name Redacted], aged 43, of Wightwizzle,
Bradfield, Sheffield. He was jailed for three years and nine months
after UKP 94,000 worth of skunk cannabis was found in the garage loft
space of the =A31 million listed barn he was renovating in Cawthorne,

- - [Name Redacted], 43, of Coltfield, Birdwell, Barnsley, who was given
three years for producing cannabis, and possessing a Class C drug and
cocaine with intent to supply both. His cannabis plants were found in
the loft during a police raid on a property in Wisewood.

- - [Name Redacted], 40, of Hay Green Lane, Birdwell, Barnsley, jailed for
six months for producing eight cannabis plants with a street value of
UKP 39,140. His mother, who is suffering from a tumour in her eye and was
accompanied by his elderly father, wept in the public gallery as he
was sent down. The court heard Brown had lost his job at Mercedes Benz
because of the court proceedings.

- - [Name Redacted], 25, of Wellington Street, Goldthorpe, Barnsley,
jailed for six months for cannabis production. Police found growing
paraphernalia in the attic of the home he shared with partner [Name
Redacted], 35, and seized five plants worth UKP 9,070. [Name Redacted]
narrowly escaped custody after admitting allowing her home to be used
for the production of cannabis. She was given a 26-week jail term
suspended for a year and ordered to carry out 100 hours of unpaid

Detective Superintendent Richard Fewkes, in charge of South Yorkshire
Police's drugs strategy, said over the last five years officers in the
county had seized cannabis with a street value of over UKP 40 million.

He said the rise in production could be linked to the downgrading of
cannabis from a Class B to a Class C drug five years ago.

Warning others not to get involved in the drug's production, he said:
"A criminal conviction and jail is potentially going to ruin your

"It will potentially mean you lose your job and, if you are the
breadwinner, that will impact on your family.

"You will find it difficult in future when you come out of prison to
find a job because you have got a criminal record, particularly in the
current economic climate, and there is a stigma that will remain with
you for the rest of your life."

He added: "It's very difficult to hide the fact you are cultivating
cannabis, even on a small scale. We undertake targeted operations but
we are often alerted by members of the public. Neighbours might smell
it or visitors might become suspicious."
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