A devoted son was excused jail after being described as “security man and janitor” at a cannabis farm which could have produced a £98,000 crop.

Nathan Russell moved into a house in Vernon Avenue but left when friends said they would pay his rent at a smaller property and hand him £500, Nottingham Crown Court heard.

But he was caught after police received a 999 call that cannabis was being removed from the house at 6.30pm on December 17, 2015. Officers found 122 cannabis plants, propagators, pumps and drainage.

Abigail Hill, prosecuting, said that 374 grams of cultivated cannabis were found in tubs and the electricity supply had been bypassed. A drugs expert estimated the total haul could be worth between £35,000 and £98,000, depending on the way it was divided up for sale.

Inquiries found the house had been rented in the name of Roy Hunt in 2012 but this was a fictitious person, said Mrs Hill. It was later found that Russell had a debt registered at the address.

Mrs Hill said the operation could have netted “a substantial amount of money“, adding: “The potential that it would be at that level suggests the defendant was involved in producing cannabis on a commercial scale.”

A two-year prison term, suspended for two years, was imposed on Russell, 27, of Bromley Close, Bulwell. He admitted production of cannabis and the abstraction of electricity.

He must do 180 hours’ community work and obey a nightly curfew for three months. Recorder Jason Macadam told him: “Consider yourself very, very lucky. You have avoided custody by the skin of your teeth.

“Certainly you were not the directing mind but something like a gardener.”

Digby Johnson, in mitigation, said Russell rented the house but was approached by some friends, who suggested he moved out.

“They said they would pay the rent for a smaller flat in a block nearby. They said if he was prepared to do it they would give him £500 and asked him to check the premises because he was the one known on the street.

“Once the grow is established, he is barely a gardener, more a security man and a janitor rather than anything else,” said Mr Johnson. He said Russell did not have the skill to bypass the electricity meter.

The court heard that Russell was the registered caretaker for his mother, who had become “dependent on him.”

The recorder said she wrote “an eloquent letter” to him and this was backed up with information from Hucknall Road Medical Centre.



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