16:23 Monday 29 April 2013

Cannabis factory uncovered after police stop van driver in Sawbridgeworth

Written byCOURT REPORTER

A SMALL cannabis farm was found when police officers out filming with a BBC camera crew stopped a driver in Sawbridgeworth.

Inside John Tone's van they found 10 cannabis wraps in the footwell and when they later searched the home he shares with partner Elaine Croft they discovered smaller amounts of the Class B drug and 24 cannabis plants growing in the garage.

Croft, 56, was cultivating cannabis for a relative, while Tone, 57, was delivering them when he was stopped, St Albans Crown Court was told.

Prosecutor Beverley Cripps said Tone's car was stopped on November 26 last year and the offices noticed "a strong smell of cannabis". The wraps were found in the footwell and more herbal cannabis and the plants, along with basic growing equipment, were uncovered at the couple's home in Harlow.

Tone, of Malkin Drive, pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of cannabis and possessing cannabis with intent, while Croft, of the same address, admitted supplying cannabis, producing 24 cannabis plants and possessing 18.6g of cannabis. Neither had been in trouble before.

Defending Croft, William Noble said she had made full and frank admissions to the police and had only been supplying the drug to a relative on a small scale.

Jonathan Akinsanya, for Tone, said he was "distraught" at appearing in court for the first time in his life at the age of 57. He said he was extremely sorry for what happened.

Judge Stephen Gullick told them: "This was a small scale operation to provide cannabis for yourselves and a relative. You are both old enough to know better."

He gave Croft 12 months' supervision and ordered her to carry out 150 hours unpaid work. She must pay £100 costs and a £60 statutory surcharge.

Tone was given a 12-month conditional discharge, ordered to pay £100 costs and a £15 surcharge.

The judge ordered that the plants and cannabis resin be destroyed and the drug equipment confiscated.

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