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Couple sentenced for growing cannabis
Published 28/07/14

A MAN has been jailed for 20 months after more than 120 cannabis plants were found in a garage in Benson.

Jeffrey Hunt, 43, was arrested along with long-term partner Lisa Crook following a police raid on the house in Westfield Road in August last year.

The plants were concealed behind a false wall in the garage and had a street value estimated to be 42,500.

Hunt, who shared the house with Crook but has since moved out, pleaded guilty to production of a Class B drug and was sentenced at Oxford Crown Court on Friday.

He was also handed a further one month in prison for possession of a Class A drug after cocaine was found on a table in the house.

Hunt has previous convictions for burglary and theft in the Nineties and was fined 200 for possession of drugs in 1996.

The garage had been divided into two rooms, one with more than 70 nursery plants, fans and UV lights. The court was told how the property was using up to 10 times more electricity than others on the street.

Crook, 41, originally pleaded not guilty to production of a Class B drug. She later changed her plea to guilty after the charge was reduced to committing premises to be used for the production of drugs. She was given a six-month curfew and ordered to pay 500 costs.

Crook, who has been in a relationship with Hunt for 20 years and has a 17-year-old daughter with him, lost her job at a charity shop in Wallingford in 2012 after suffering a mental breakdown.

Hunt had been working long hours in his job at a drainage company to support the family.

Lucy Japper, defending Hunt, said: “Mr Hunt has always been a cannabis user but his use had increased because of the difficulties at home.

“He has never benefited to the tune of thousands of pounds, he remains in debt despite working long hours at his job.”

Judge Patrick Eccles told Hunt: “The garage was set up to produce several crops throughout the year. If it is done well it can produce a profit of 32,000 a year and while you are not engaging in trade of that level it goes to show the scale of the operation.

“You made a decision to embark on this when your partner lost her job so there was the expectation of financial gain.

“There was no suggestion when you were arrested of any luxury in your life and many people spoke well of you.

“However, you went into it with your eyes open and it’s so serious that only a custodial sentence is appropriate.”

He added: “In your case Miss Crook, it was extremely foolish of you not to admit from the outset that you knew something was going on in the shed.”

Crook burst into tears when the sentences were read out before leaving the court with her daughter.

Published 28/07/14

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