Sunderland man grew drugs ‘to pay off debt after car crash’

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A MAN grew a cannabis farm to pay off thousands of pounds of debt to a man whose car he crashed into.

Police found 100 plants in two bedrooms of a property in Ferndale Terrace, Pallion, Sunderland.

Anthony Layton told police he had researched how to set up the farm on the internet, and that he had used a wire to bypass the pre-payment meter to extract electricity.

Jeanette Smith, prosecuting, said the damage to the meter and the electricity he used came to £1,332.

Layton, 39, pleaded guilty to producing a Class B drug and dishonestly abstracting electricity.

Mrs Smith told the court that the farm was discovered by a joiner who had gone to the flat to change the locks on January 28.

She added: “Mr Layton admitted constructing it and bypassed the electricity meter to avoid paying the extra money.

“He said he had researched it on YouTube.

“He said he was heavily in debt with a man, having crashed into his car and owed him £5,000.

“He set up the cannabis farm to pay off the debt.”

Paul McAlindon, defending, said: “It wasn’t a good idea to be in debt to this person.

“He said ‘there’s a way you can expunge your debt by setting up a cannabis farm’.

“It wasn’t for any financial gain for himself. It was to get the person off his back. There is a sinister undertone. No specific threats were made, but it was made clear it was in his best interest to do this.”

The bench committed the case to Newcastle Crown Court for sentencing on May 27.