Drug barons forced debt-hit Sunderland grandad to host cannabis farm

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A GRANDAD was forced to allow his home to be used by drug barons after he fell into debt to a loan shark.

Officers found a cannabis farm containing 155 plants when they raided Stephen Gilby’s home in April, a court heard.

The 49-year-old former painter and decorator pleaded guilty to permitting his premises to be used for cultivation on the basis he had been “put upon” to allow others to grow the drugs as a means of paying of his £4,000 debt.

At Newcastle Crown Court yesterday, Judge Michael Cartlidge sentenced Gilby, of Marion Street, Hendon, Sunderland, to 12 months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, with 200 hours’ unpaid work and a three-month night-time curfew.

The judge told him: “You permitted your premises to be used for the cultivation of cannabis plants, 155 plants.

“The basis of your plea is you were put upon by someone else.

“The reality is, since you have admitted permitting your premises to be used rather than producing cannabis, I should be true to the plea and sentence you on the basis you were put upon.”

The court heard two plants were found in a separate room during the raid, which Gilby admitted growing himself.

Judge Cartlidge added: “The defendant must realise, if he carries on using or involving himself in cannabis, whether someone puts upon him or not, he is going to go to prison.”

Nigel Barnes, defending, said Gilby started getting into debt when his house maintenance work dried up due to “economic factors”.

Mr Barnes added: “His benefit was to be the expunging of a financial arrangement.

“He is now hoping to get back into the work he had been doing in the past.”

Mr Barnes said Gilby, who has not revealed the names of the loan shark or anyone else involved, is a dedicated family man who wants to keep out of trouble.