Dad used rented house and stolen electricity to grow cannabis

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A DAD-of-one cultivated a cannabis farm in a house he was renting.

Thomas Darren Webster, 42, of Granville Street, Sunderland, appeared at Newcastle Crown Court and pleaded guilty to one charge of producing cannabis and another of siphoning electricity from a meter.

Webster became a tenant at a three- storey house in New Herrington on May 2 last year.

On October 28, police found 56 cannabis plants being grown in the top-floor bedroom along with lighting and sheeting, the court heard.

Michael Bunch, prosecuting, said: “The defendant was arrested a week later and immediately put his hands up and said, ‘Fair enough, mate. They were for my own personal use’.

“He later changed his account, saying the produce was shared out between a group and anything left over would be sold, with himself to profit from that.”

The plants were four weeks from maturity when they were seized, but they could have produced 1.3kg of the drug, the court heard.

Vic Lafferty, defending, said Webster was one of a group of friends involved in the crime, and he acknowledges that he may have made some money from it.

He added: “He is in employment with an agency which makes cars for the Nissan plant, though he is on sick leave at the moment.”

Sentencing him, Judge Simon Hickey said: “If I send you to prison, it would be for a very short time, and the effect of that would be to lose your accommodation. What has just persuaded me to suspend your sentence is the fact that you are in work and willing to get your life back on track.”

Webster was sentenced to a total of nine months in prison, suspended for 12 months, and he was also ordered to complete 150 hours of community service.