Drugs tip-off at the tip

Tip worker Leon Ibbotson spotted the suspicious behaviour of John Sell as he tried to dump remnants of cannabis plants at Bispham Recycling Centre.

Tip worker Leon Ibbotson spotted the suspicious behaviour of John Sell as he tried to dump remnants of cannabis plants at Bispham Recycling Centre.

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An eagle-eyed tip worker led police to a Blackpool cannabis farm after spotting a “suspicious” man trying to get rid of his illegal stash.

Leon Ibbotson stopped John Sell as he came into Bispham Recycling Centre ready to dump the remnants of cannabis plants he was growing at home.

Mr Ibbotson said he was immediately wary of Sell’s nervous demeanour.

He said: “He grabbed his bin bag and threw it right into the corner of the skip.

“I told him it didn’t go in there as it was green waste and I saw him panic.

“He walked right the way around his car to avoid me and I just found him to be very suspicious.”

Mr Ibbotson, 37, looked in the bag once Sell had driven away, and noticed it could be cannabis.

He called police, who tracked Sell, 62, down through his car registration number.

And when they went to his home on Clyde Street, Blackpool, in November, officers found a crop of more than one kilo of the drug – worth around £500 on the street.

Preston Crown Court heard Sell was planning to sell the drug to fund a trip abroad.

He admitted being concerned in the supply of cannabis and producing the drug, and was sentenced to a 12-month prison term, suspended or a year.

He must also do 100 hours’ unpaid work and pay a £100 statutory surcharge.

Mr Ibbotson, of Layton, said: “I am so against drugs, so I was really chuffed that I was able to help catch him.

“It was just luck that I spotted him, and his behaviour told me something wasn’t quite right.”

How the story unfolded in court

Preston Crown Court heard a crop of 1.25kg of cannabis was found at John Sell’s home.

Prosecuting on Thursday, Paul Brookwell said the plants were discovered in a locked upstairs room at the house on Clyde Street, on plastic sheeting.

Cannabis plant matter was also found in Sell’s boot after his trip to the Bispham tip.

Mitigating, Chris Hudson said Sell had worked all his life.

Leon Ibbotson, at Bispham Recycling Centre, said he wasn’t sure at first what the plant remnants, dumped in a black sack in a skip at the site, were.

He said: “It looked a bit like what I’ve seen in books before, but it didn’t smell at all.

“I showed my boss, and he said to call the police.”

Mr Ibbotson, who now works in the site’s shop, said police officers checked Sell’s car on the tip’s Automatic Number Plate Recognition system, and took the drug away.

He said: “I was really shocked about the whole thing.”

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