A DRUG dealer behind a £14,000 cannabis farm has been jailed.
Preston Crown Court in heard how 34-year-old Anthony Wilson had used the cannabis factory as a “way out” of trouble.
But Wilson, of Hilton Avenue, St Annes, was jailed for 22 months after he admitted producing and supplying cannabis.
The court heard he had turned to growing the drug after being told by someone he owed money to it would provide an escape from his troubles.
But Wilson was discovered after a police officer walking past the Layton property he was using on Delaware Road noticed a strong smell of cannabis.
Police returned to the property with a thermal imaging camera several days later and located a strong heat source coming from the roof space, and when they returned with a search warrant they discovered Wilson at the premises along with a padlocked loft packed with 142 cannabis plants.
A simultaneous search of Wilson’s home uncovered £1,200 in cash.
Paul Humphries, defending, said his client had lost tens of thousands of pounds when a creditor company went under, leaving him unable to run his business properly.
And Mr Humphries said: “Everything was piling on top of the other. He couldn’t see a way out.
“The cannabis growing system was shipped in by the person he owned money to. He was told ‘ this is your way out’.
“But the plants were delivering less than half their average yield.
“He is clearly sorry for getting involved.
“He made an error and isn’t going to do it again.”
Andrew Smith, 49 – the father of Wilson’s partner – also appeared before the court and admitted allowing his premises on Delaware Road to be used for the cultivation of cannabis.
He was given a community order involving 300 hours’ unpaid work and ordered to pay £220 costs.
The court heard Wilson had asked Smith for access to the loft space, which had previously been let to a lodger.
But Smith had not known to what extent cannabis production was going on in the loft space.
Geoffrey Lowe, defending Smith, added: “There came a time when he knew the nature of the activity, but he was never aware of the full extent of it.
“It isn’t suggested he had any active part in the cultivation.”