A 39-YEAR-OLD man became a cannabis farmer to try to pay off a debt of more than £30,000, Gloucester Crown Court was told yesterday, Tuesday.
Daniel Gerrard, of Slad Road, Stroud produced cannabis from a flat in Reservoir Road, Gloucester, which was equipped with high-powered lighting, ventilation equipment and oscillating fans.
Father-of-three Gerrard was jailed for a total of two years by Judge Jamie Tabor. At an earlier magistrates court hearing, he had admitted producing cannabis and falsely obtaining £4,492 worth of electricity.
Lisa Hennessy, prosecuting, said police went to the address in Reservoir Road on September 12 last year.
They found a cannabis farm in the attic containing 162 cannabis plants of various stages of maturity and cannabis production equipment including high-powered lights, ventilation equipment and fans.
Officers also found a cannabis growing manual and scales plus £2,240 in cash in the property.
The cannabis plants would have yielded around 4.03 kilograms of flowering heads, worth more than £11,482 at street value.
Miss Hennessy said the electricity meter in the property had been tampered with and Gerrard had been tenant since 2007.
When initially interviewed by police, he made no comment but in a subsequent interview said he owed £31,000 and became a cannabis grower to pay off the debt. He refused to identify others involved in the operation.
Joe Maloney, defending, said Gerrard was a man of previous good character with no previous convictions and realised the seriousness of what he had done.
He had been under some pressure to pay off his debt when he became involved. Gerrard, Mr Maloney said, was a father of three young children and very highly thought of by those who knew him.
In jailing Gerrard, Judge Tabor said: "The production of cannabis on a commercial scale is rife throughout the country. It is rife for one reason only and that is because there’s a lot of money in it.
"This set-up was professional with all the trappings of professional cannabis production."
The amount of electricity that was used indicated this was a big operation, he said.
In sentencing Gerrard to two years imprisonment, Judge Tabor said he took into account his previous good character and his guilty plea at the first opportunity.