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No Narnia, but plenty of drugs found in wardrobe at Bideford house

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: December 06, 2012

COURT: Magistrates have sent the case to Exeter Crown Court.

IT wasn't Narnia at the back of Andrew Bannister's wardrobe – but a secret cannabis growing operation.

In the CS Lewis children's books, the Chronicles Of Narnia the doorway to a magical world was in the back of a wardrobe. But the door behind Bannister's wardrobe revealed a hidden drugs farm.

North Devon magistrates heard that police attended his house in Allhalland Road, Bideford, to arrest the 49-year-old over an unrelated incident a month earlier.

Ben Winzer, for the prosecution, told magistrates police found 24 plants growing behind a plastic sheet suspended from the bedroom ceiling.

He said there was also a wardrobe in the room which had the back cut out of it – leading to a concealed room.

In the room was a fish tank with a further eight cannabis plants growing inside it.

The court heard Bannister also had a range of equipment typically used in cannabis productions as well as bags of cannabis seeds.

Mr Winzer said that the production had been put in place to allow Bannister to make a financial gain from the cannabis.

But Tony Dart, for the defence, told the court that it was an "amateur" operation and that the plants were tiny and "were looking not terribly healthy."

He disputed the prosecution's claim that the value of the cannabis was around £15,000.

Bannister was also charged with three other offences.

On September 18 he smashed a shop window with an iron bar in front of a mother and her one-year-old son.

Bannister was fighting with a man at the entrance to Boots in Bideford when he struck the glass pane, causing it to shatter.

He also used the iron bar to hit David Waring in the head during the altercation.

Magistrates heard that the two men began shouting at each other in the shop before Bannister swung the bar at Mr Waring.

He then dropped it but it was picked up by Mr Waring who then swung the bar back at Bannister and both men fell to the floor.

Bannister pleaded guilty to using threatening behaviour with intent to cause or provoke violence, criminal damage to property, producing a class B drug and possessing an offensive weapon in a public place.

The case will be sent to Exeter Crown Court for sentence as magistrates believed the offences needed greater punishment than they were able to give.

A committal hearing will take place on January 3.

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