Barry Gray, of Bensham, had 71 plants at various stages of growth when police raided his home
A cannabis farmer who claimed he was growing it to help his epilepsy has been jailed.
Barry Gray said he had 71 plants in his home because he was going to turn it into oil for medicinal purposes – but there was no evidence of such a procedure taking place. A court heard police went to his home in Bensham, Gateshead, in May 2020 to execute a search warrant and found the drugs factory.
He had barricaded his door with wood but once they got in, officers found cannabis plants at various stages of growth in bedrooms. Newcastle Crown Court that when interviewed he told officers: “It’s just a few plants”.
David Robinson-Young, prosecuting, said: “He said he had epilepsy and turned the cannabis into cannabis oil, which helped with his seizures. There was no evidence found of an ability to convert it to oil.”
Police said the drugs were worth between £7,480 and £30,050 and Mr Robinson Young added: “It was a commercial venture capable of creating quite substantial amounts of cannabis.” He had also bypassed the electricity supply to power the farm.
Gray, 34, pleaded guilty to producing cannabis, abstracting electricity and failing to surrender. He also admitted separate offences from November 2020 of possessing an offensive weapon and possessing diazepam. That followed police being called to Rectory Road, in Gateshead, after reports of a fight involving several people and Gray was found to have a knuckle duster in his clenched fist and the class C drugs. He said he had the weapon to protect his brother, who had been injured in a fight.
Gray, of Windsor Avenue, Bensham, who has eight previous convictions, was sentenced to 34 months in prison.
David Callan, defending, said he is now having three fits a week in prison without cannabis. He added: “He finds if he has cannabis oil it almost entirely stops his fits.
“He was growing it himself to save money and remove himself from buying it from drug dealers. They were at three different stages of development.
“He is a joiner but no one will employ him now because they can’t get third party liability insurance.”
Mr Callan added that Gray took the knuckle duster for protection and said he absconded to get off drugs before going to prison and went to work in a puppy farm in the Scottish Borders.