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Police raid revealed cannabis farm

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: January 26, 2012

A RECOVERING heroin addict started her own cannabis farm at a remote Devon cottage so she could use the drug to cope, Exeter Crown Court heard.

Lydia Ward, 44, was found with 42 plants when police broke into an outhouse and found a tent containing a high-tech growing system. She told them she planned to use the drugs herself to reduce her anxiety.

Ward, of Church Cottage, Ashreigney, admitted producing cannabis and was jailed for nine months, suspended for two years, and ordered to do 180 hours' unpaid community work.

Judge Graham Cottle said: "You have pleaded guilty on the basis it was being grown for your own personal use and that is accepted. I am slightly concerned that the writer of the pre-sentence report notes you minimise and justify the offence. This behaviour is never justified and cannot be minimised."

He acknowledged that the report was fairly favourable and he had been persuaded to suspend the sentence.

Mr Howard Phillips, for the prosecution, said: "The drugs were found in an outbuilding where police forced the doors and broke their way in.

"They found a tent with a relatively sophisticated set-up to grow cannabis.

"There were 42 plants of which four were mother plants to take cuttings from. The plants would have produced at least 1.4 kilograms of the drug which would be worth about £3,000."

Mr Richard Crabb, for the defence, said Ward was a former heroin addict who used cannabis to help symptoms of nervousness.

He said: "Her doctor gave her medication but it didn't work so she tried cannabis to relieve her symptoms."

He said she used about an ounce a week and expected the crop to last three or four months but she made a better job of growing it than expected and ended up with a year's supply.

She now says that as she was able to get off heroin, she must be able to give up cannabis."

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