Cannabis growers spared jail as judge shows mercy
CANNABIS growers who were subject to a vicious attack in which one was hit over the head with a shotgun have avoided going to prison.
Gloucester Crown Court heard that two rooms containing more than £20,000 of the Class B drug were concealed under the garden of Frances Williams and Bronwen Davies.
Prosecutor Julian Kesner said police were called to their home in Plump Hill, Mitcheldean, after two men stormed the address in an aggravated burglary.
He said the couple had got themselves in a "whole host of trouble" before the rooms, which were dug into the sloped garden and accessed via a shed, were discovered on April 4.
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More than two kilograms of the plants, with a street value of £21,300, were found.
In mitigation, Joe Maloney told the court that Davies had returned home to discover two men inside her house.
He said the 33-year-old ran away but was pursued by the men.
"She was captured and grabbed," he said.
"She was struck in the face with a shotgun, punched and kicked, and was told that she might have her kneecaps shot.
"She cowered and they ran off, as the police had been called.
"Two men have been arrested but it was a bad enough experience."
The court was told Williams had been a cannabis smoker and set up the growing rooms and Davies had tended to them when he was away.
The couple, who have two children, both admitted being concerned in the production of cannabis and Williams, 41, pleaded guilty to a further charge of supply.
Mr Kesner said Williams told police he had been supplying four or five of his friends with the drug as they were smokers too.
Mr Maloney said Williams was a well-respected man and Davies a dedicated charity fundraiser who was missing out on climbing Mount Everest to raise money for children with learning difficulties.
Judge William Hart said he "took mercy" on the pair, neither of who had any previous convictions, and spared them an immediate jail term.
Williams sighed with relief when he was given a 14-month prison sentence suspended for two years and was ordered to carry out 140 hours of unpaid work.
Davies was given a 20-week sentence suspended for 12 months and will have to carry out 120 hours of unpaid work.
In summing up, the judge told the couple: "You have come as close as anyone can to going to prison."