Man under pressure to pay off debts turned to commercial cannabis growing (From The Advertiser Series)
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Consett man under pressure to pay off debts turned to commercial cannabis growing
A MAN said to be heavily in debt turned to cannabis farming in a bid to resolve his financial problems, a court was told.
Michael Robins was in the process of cultivating more than 100 cannabis plants when police raided his home and a small factory unit he rented, both in Consett, County Durham, earlier this year.
Durham Crown Court heard 52-year-old Robins claimed to have been “under some pressure” to repay his debts, and so resorted to growing the class B drug.
But he was warned he is now facing a likely prison sentence due to the scale of the operation and the number of plants involved.
Robins, 52, of Berry Edge Road, Consett, admitted two counts of producing a class B drug, one charge relating to his house and the other to a unit on Derwentside Industrial Estate.
A total of 54 plants were being cultivated at his home address, which was, other than the growing equipment being used, said to be “sparsely furnished”.
Police found a further 47 plants growing in the small factory unit, on the same day, Wednesday January 9 this year.
Robins made his ‘guilty’ pleas at the court last month on a basis he was being pressured to repay his debts.
The case was originally adjourned for a trial of issue over his basis of plea, to be contested at a hearing today (Thursday September 12).
But when the case was called into court today, prosecuting barrister, Olivia Checa-Dover, and defence counsel Lewis Kerr said the issue had now been resolved without the need for a trial of issue.
Miss Checa-Dover said it was agreed that it falls into a category within sentencing guidelines indicating Robins was growing, “to a commercial scale”.
Recorder Jamie Hill agreed to adjourn sentencing Robins to allow for preparation of a background report on him, by the Probation Service.
But he said: “I’m told he had been put under some significant pressure and I’ll deal with it on that basis when we return for sentence.”
Addressing Robins, Recorder Hill told him: “I’ll renew your bail now on the same terms you have been on so far, but you must understand there’s a likelihood in this case of an immediate custodial sentence.
“I’ll listen carefully to mitigation, but custody is the lost likely outcome.”
Robins must return to be sentenced on Friday September 20.
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