Man with cannabis farm at parents' house avoids jail
A man who operated a cannabis factory in a mobile home behind his parents' house has avoided a prison sentence after telling a court he used the drug to treat his arthritis.
Glenn Willis, from Derrylee Road in Moy, Co Tyrone, was given a suspended sentence at Omagh Crown Court after 142 cannabis plants were found at his mother and father's home in Dungannon.
When arrested by police, the 45-year-old admitted that he owned the plants, telling officers: "They're mine, I'm so sorry for my mother."
The court was told the defendant habitually used the drug to relieve the pain of injuries he had suffered in motorbike and car crashes.
Judge Paul Ramsey sentenced him to two months for cultivation of cannabis, but suspended it for two years.
He was also given two one-month suspended sentences for possession of the drug.
The court heard that while the amount involved would normally warrant a custodial sentence, it was accepted they were for the defendant's use only.
An earlier hearing was told Willis had divided the mobile home cannabis factory into three sections.
One was a harvesting room with 58 plants, the second was a drying room, and the third was a cutting area with 42 plants. Approximately 100 grammes of the drug was discovered in a fridge in the defendant's home.
A prosecutor said that Willis could be described as an "enthusiastic amateur" grower and told how he had convictions for drug possession dating back to 1995 and 2000.
The prosecutor added that the custody threshold had been crossed and said case law would suggest jail for six to 12 months.
But a defence lawyer said Willis was not a supplier and revealed that his client's son suffered from autism, his ex-wife from psychiatric issues and Willis himself from Asperger's.
Since being caught, he has not returned to his parents' home because he is ashamed of his actions, of which his mother and father did not approve.
Asking Judge Paul Ramsey to give his client maximum credit for his rapid guilty plea, a defence lawyer told the court that Willis was very good with his hands, never went out and was very close to his mother.
Judge Paul Ramsey said it was quite clear the defendant was a long-standing user of cannabis. He also accepted he had previous convictions but highlighted that they were for possession.
Willis was assessed as being at a medium risk of re-offending and as someone who did not pose a serious risk of harm.
Judge Ramsey said that taking into account the defendant's injuries, community service and probation were limited options.
A psychologist's report set out the defendant's addiction to drugs, and the court was told that he had taken responsibility for and was sorry for his crimes.
Judge Ramsey said prison would be the normal punishment in such a case, but added that, given the Asperger's syndrome and the prosecution's acceptance that there was no supply involved, a suspended sentence was appropriate.
However, issuing an order for the destruction of Willis' cannabis, he warned the defendant that he could be jailed if convicted of similar offences during the next two years.