Budleigh man who grew cannabis is spared jail

PUBLISHED: 13:37 26 October 2016 | UPDATED: 13:37 26 October 2016

Exeter Crown Court. Picture: Alex Walton

Exeter Crown Court. Picture: Alex Walton

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A 61-year-old Budleigh Salterton man who grew cannabis for his own use has been handed a suspended jail sentence

A former boat designer from Budleigh Salterton who grew cannabis to treat a back injury, depression and insomnia has been spared a jail sentence.

Roger Lowe started buying the drug as medication but found the supplies he picked up on the street were too strong and gave him a sort throat.

He researched different varieties on the internet and grew particularly mild varietals which he believed were ideal for his medical and psychological conditions.

The 61-year-old planned to harvest his crops, dry the flowering heads, and turn them into biscuits, Exeter Crown Court was told.

Lowe, of Dukes Road, Budleigh Salterton, admitted the production of cannabis and was jailed for eight months, suspended for a year by Recorder Mr Donald Tait.

The Judge told him: “This was one blip and you are otherwise a perfectly decent, respectable man who thoroughly regrets committing this offence.

“It is a serious offence to cultivate cannabis. There is far too much of it going on in this country, but not usually by gentlemen of your vintage.”

The Judge ordered an investigation under the Proceeds of Crime Act into £14,500 of unexplained cash payments into Lowe’s bank accounts between 2009 and his arrest in 2015.

Mr Joss Ticehurst, prosecuting, said police searched Lowe’s home in Budleigh Salterton on June 24, 2015 and found 24 mature plants in the living room, 11 immature plants in one bedroom and 2 small cuttings in a second.

There were also bags of harvested cannabis from a previous grow which weighed a total of 903 grams. These would have been worth £6,500 at street prices and if the growing plants came to fruition they would be worth between £7,000 and £31,000.

He said there were unexplained cash payments into Lowe’s bank account and he had paid some of his abnormally high electricity bills with cash.

He told police it was a hobby which got out of hand and he had started growing because the cannabis he bought from others was too harsh and gave him a sore throat and headaches.

He said he had only grown one previous batch and his plan was to dry his crop and use it to make cannabis biscuits.

Mr Lee Bremridge, defending, said Lowe is a skilled boatbuilder who had designed the interiors of yachts before he was injured in an accident.

He came to Devon from the Isle of Wight to look after his elderly mother, from whom he inherited the house when she died.

Mr Bremridge said this bereavement had contributed to Lowe’s depression, which was also triggered by re-discovering his long lost daughter, who had been taken out of the country by his wife when she was three, but being unable to get in touch with her.

He said Lowe had always admitted growing the cannabis for his own use but accepted that he would have had a surplus in the future which may have been sold.

A probation report said Lowe had expressed genuine remorse and that he is a man who respects the law and is ashamed of having broken it.

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