Man grew cannabis to help dad pay debt

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A cannabis ‘farmer’ avoided being sent straight to jail for setting up an illicit operation to ease his pensioner dad’s financial problems.

The OAP ran into bother because he remortgaged the family’s Ilkeston home so his daughter could get a £53,000 loan to buy a narrow boat, a court heard.

He was left with £26,000 arrears at the Loughborough Building Society and so Scott Lewendon grew 22 cannabis plants in the loft of his home in Godfrey Drive, Kirk Hallam. Electricity was diverted to cut costs and he could have made up to £10,000.

Jasmine Kumar, mitigating at Derby Crown Court, said Lewendon’s 80-year-old father was now in poor health but mortgage payments were being met and there were no arrears.

“Mr Lewendon didn’t want to see him with financial problems and set up a cannabis grow,” she said. “He was split between living with his father and residing with his son and family. He is genuinely remorseful, he knows it was wrong and is in a great deal of trouble and has put even more pressure on his family,” Miss Kumar told the court.

Lewendon, 41, admitted cultivating cannabis and abstracting electricity on November 28. He was given an eight-month prison term, suspended for a year, and was put on probation.

Judge Jonathan Gosling said cannabis growers should usually expect to go straight to jail. But he had taken note of Lewendon’s health problems as well as the father’s difficulties.

“The effect on your family and your father would mean he would become a victim of your imprisonment,” the judge said.

Some of the cash had gone towards easing the father’s problems and more had gone on taking the pensioner on holiday, the judge added.

The court was told police visited the house on “an unconnected matter” but found the cannabis set-up while searching the attic. As well as the plants, they found lighting, fans, ducting and transformers.

If the plants had been harvested, they could have produced a street value of up to £10,000, said Alex Wolfson, prosecuting. Lewendon immediately co-operated with the police.

He said he wanted to help his father who was “particularly ill,” added Mr Wolfson. Fourteen years ago, Lewendon was put on probation for having cannabis with intent to supply. In 2009, he admitted possession of the drug, the court was told.

Lewendon was described to the judge as “a sensitive individual” who suffered from depression and emotional anxiety. He must pay a £100 government surcharge.