A former soldier used his grandfather’s house to grow cannabis worth £12,000 to pay off a ‘massive’ gambling debt, a court heard.
Robert Brierley, 29, rented out his grandfather’s home on Shuttleworth Street in Rishton while he was living in France and worked with the tenant to produce 261 cannabis plants.
Burnley Crown Court heard how the father-of-one acted as a ‘gardener’ for the set-up and has now ‘significantly affected the relationship with his grandfather’.
Brierley, of Brook Street, Rishton, pleaded guilty to producing cannabis and was given a 15-month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months and ordered to pay £300 costs.
Anthony Stephenson, prosecuting, told the court how officers raided the house in August 2013 and found 31 plants in an upstairs bedroom worth £12,141.
They also found two large bags containing cannabis and another 200 ‘very immature’ plants which were ‘unlikely to survive’.
Mr Stephenson said when Brierley was arrested he told police that he didn’t know about the cannabis and didn’t have a key to the property.
However the court heard how officers later found a key in his car outside.
James Heyworth, defending, said Brierley, who now works in the building trade, has no relevant previous convictions and has kept out of trouble since 2013.
He told the court: “He found himself in a significant amount of debt through gambling and essentially allowed his grandfather’s house to be used to facilitate the production of the cannabis.
“The fallout of it is not just that he is before the court but he has also managed to significantly affect the relationship with his grandfather.”
Sentencing, Judge Beverley Lunt said: “You are not just a gardener and you weren’t just a caretaker.
“You facilitated the growth of this by providing the house.
“This case has got all sorts of odd features to it.
“Usually the gardener, caretaker or people who act as you do are drug addicts and do it so they can have cannabis for their own use.
“That’s not you.
“What you have is a massive gambling debt and the worst decision you could possibly make is to think of this as a way to make money.
“You had your eyes fully open as to what was going on in that address and nevertheless you did it.
“You were caught red-handed.”