A convicted cannabis producer has had his sentence changed on appeal.
Police executed a warrant at a tenanted property in Great Harwood belonging to Mark Illsley and found 15 cannabis plants in ‘an advanced state of growth’ in a front bedroom.
They also found equipment including lights, extractor fans, filters and transformers, Burnley Crown Court heard.
Officers also seized a quantity of cannabis which had been ‘harvested’ from one of the plants and were drying out on the floor.
Illsley, of Glebe Street, Great Harwood, pleaded guilty at Blackburn Magistrates Court earlier this year to producing 15 cannabis plants and possessing cannabis and given a 26-week jail term, suspended for 12 months with a supervision requirement and ordered to carry out 150 hours unpaid work.
However Illsley, 32, appealed the sentence claiming magistrates had misapplied the sentencing guidelines.
Catherine Ellis, prosecuting, told the court how Illsley was not at the property at the time the warrant was executed but ‘came to know’ about the seizure and two days later and his solicitors contacted the police. The court heard how Illsley, 32, attended the police station on February 20 and provided a statement saying he was the ‘sole tenant’ of the property, was a regular user of cannabis and the cannabis found at the premises was ‘entirely his and was for his own personal use’.
Miss Ellis said Illsley, who has previous convictions for possessing cannabis, told officers that he believed it was ‘safer to grow his own cannabis than buy from street dealers’. The court heard how police said the quantity was ‘consistent with personal use’.
At the appeal hearing at Burnley Crown Court last week, Graham Robinson, defending said he should have received a community order. He told the court that magistrates accepted the drugs were ‘for his personal use’ and that his aggravating previous convictions ‘can’t have too much weight’. He said: “The result should’ve been a community order and unpaid work. We suggest the amount of unpaid work is correct but the community order should replace the suspended sentence.” Judge Jonathan Gibson, sitting with the magistrates, allowed the appeal and changed Illsley’s sentence to a 12-month community order with 150 hours unpaid work.