Police smell cannabis being grown by back pain sufferer
SUFFERING from a bad back, Darren Bell wanted to find a way of easing the struggle.
But his attempts at growing cannabis to ease the pain were stopped by police – who smelled the plant as it grew in his Cheltenham house.
But the 40-year-old, of Swindon Lane, walked free from court, despite growing more than £6,000 worth of the plant to help him cope with his bad back.
Prosecutor Julian Kesner told the Gloucester Crown Court that police literally sniffed out Darren Bell's indoor plantation when passing his house.
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Inside the house, they found 12 large cannabis plants and 16 smaller ones, he said.
They would have produced 646 grams of flowering head with a value of between £6,460 and £9,228.
Bell, a man of good character and said to be in good employment, admitted cultivating cannabis between November 1 and December 18 2011.
Judge William Hart fined him £1,250 and ordered him to pay £250 costs and a £15 surcharge.
"You have been a cannabis user for some time," said the judge.
"I suspect that was partly recreational but it was also for analgesic purposes and for stress relief.
"You undoubtedly suffered from a very bad back condition. As with many people who take cannabis, it provided some relief from your physical ailment.
"I don't suppose you realised the serious position you were getting yourself into when you started growing these plants at your address."
Mr Kesner had told the court that as well as the cannabis, the police found growing apparatus – thermostats, oscillating fans, purple lighting, air filters, drying nets and nutrients
"In another part of the room was a nursery for seedlings and cuttings," said Mr Kesner.
Joe Maloney, in mitigation, said: "This is a man who has had a back problem for several years and he was effectively growing cannabis for self medication purposes."
Judge Hart told Bell: "You are in good employment and you have never been in trouble before."
He ordered forfeiture and destruction of the plants and paraphernalia and told Bell he must pay the fine at £200 a month.