Police traced drink-driver to drugs farm

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A DRUNK driver who crashed his mother’s car into a wall was found to growing cannabis in his bedroom.

Scott O’Neil staggered away from the scene of the crash before police traced him to the house in Chester-le-Street where he lives with his mother, Durham Crown Court heard.

“People living near Ropery Lane heard a screech of brakes and a loud bang at about 6am,” said Liam O’Brien, prosecuting.

“They describe O’Neil and his passenger staggering around, clearly drunk, and then they left the scene.

“Police attended the address of the car’s registered keeper, his mother, who told them she was unaware he had taken it.”

The court heard a search of the house found 12 mature cannabis plants in O’Neil’s bedroom, and 24 smaller plants in a wardrobe in his mother’s bedroom.

“There was also cannabis growing paraphernalia,” added Mr O’Brien.

“These items included a book on growing cannabis which was in the kitchen.

“The defendant’s mother was arrested, but it was decided to take no further action against her.”

O’Neil, 25, of Lancaster Terrace, Chester-le-Street, admitted aggravated vehicle taking, driving with excess alcohol, and being concerned in the production of a class B drug, all of which happened on June 2, last year.

Jane Foley, defending, said in mitigation: “He does have previous driving convictions which will be a concern for the court.

“But he is still quite young and relatively immature.

“He has the support of his mother, and the prospect of work.

“Ironically, given his growing skills, the work is in landscape gardening.”

The Recorder, Mr Ian Atherton, sentenced O’Neil to six months in prison, suspended for 12 months, a night-time curfew of three months, and 100 hours of community work.

Recorder Atherton said: “You are a big, strapping lad who should be out at work, not spending all day drinking and then crashing your mother’s car.

“It would have been straight to prison today had you not come clean with the police and the court.”

O’Neil was banned from driving for three years.

The drugs and growing equipment were confiscated and will be destroyed.