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Cannabis farm mastermind locked up
9:54am Thursday 25th October 2012 in News
A MAN has been jailed after a major cannabis operation worth an annual £722,000 was smashed after police raided two houses in a quiet area of Malvern.
The homes, both owned by Samuel Townsend, contained 936 plants in various stages of growth.
Prosecutor Stephen Davies said at Worcester Crown Court: “This was production of cannabis on an industrial scale.
"These houses had the outward appearance of normal suburban homes with blinds. This was not a DIY set-up but a sophisticated conversion of both properties.”
The electricity meters had been bypassed and a cultivation process established which meant plants would yield seven-and-a-half times the normal amount of drugs.
Officers found a bamboo construction to hide extraction pipework, individual fuseboxes in some rooms, watering cans, humidifiers, bags of fertiliser, a baton and a machete during the raid on October 21 last year.
Townsend, aged 28, of Spring Gardens, Malvern, pleaded guilty to cannabis cultivation and was jailed for four years.
Judge Robert Juckes QC said the drug factory had been run “with great skill” and had a potential yield of 72 kilogrammes a year.
He had to deter others but recognised that Townsend had suicidal tendencies and mental health problems which included autism and asperger’s syndrone.
One of the houses in Wordsworth Green, Malvern, had been left to Townsend by his mother.
He bought the second one a few doors away from drug profits and was buying a third home in Cheshire. Townsend, who had no previous convictions, declined to comment in a police interview.
Defending, Robert Hodgkinson said Townsend had been using cannabis since the age of 15. His supplier had suggested he go into business himself and grow his own drugs. Although he must have had help, he took no part in the selling or distribution of the cannabis.
Mr Hodgkinson said he would lose all three properties he owned after a confiscation hearing to be held at a later date.
He had been seeing psychiatrists since the age of 10. He suffered from obsessions such as body-building and taking steroids, and would set his alarm clock in order to eat an extra meal in the middle of the night.
Mr Hodgkinson said he had been sectioned under the Mental Health Act after taking an overdose. He then absconded with stolen tablets and took another potentially lethal dose. Townsend now threatened to throw himself under a train.
A psychiatrist told the court he feared incarceration would mean his mental health deteriorating. He recommended a hospital order.
But the judge said a lower sentence than one recommended under the guidlines reflected Townsend’s difficulties.
He had read “with great sadness” letters from his family and would support any steps psychiatrists took in the future to move him from jail to a secure hospital.