Judge gives Halifax man who grew drugs to pay off debts final chance

Bradford Crown Court
Bradford Crown Court

A debt-ridden man who tried to sort out his financial problems by growing cannabis at his Halifax home has been given a suspended prison sentence.

Judge Jonathan Rose told 38-year-old Andrew Dempsey that suspending his 14-month prison sentence for two years was the only chance he would ever get and he faced going to jail for breaching any terms of the order.

Prosecutor Heather Weir told Bradford Crown Court how police officers acting on information went to Dempsey’s property at Fairfax Crescent in January and noticed a strong smell of cannabis.

During their visit they discovered 15 plants growing in the loft of the semi-detached property and a further 15 plants in an out-building in the garden.

Mrs Weir said the electricity meter had been by-passed and the plants were being grown using high-powered lighting and other equipment.

Dempsey, who had no previous convictions, told police immediately that he had been growing the cannabis to sell to friends so he could make a bit of money.

The court heard that the plants seized could have produced cannabis which would have had a street value of just over £11,500.

Dempsey told police that he had bought the equipment second-hand off the internet and had also got information about how to grow the cannabis.

He even admitted that he had tried to grow cannabis about four years earlier but he had ripped out that crop after a neighbour saw what was happening.

Dempsey, of Woodbrook Road, Mixenden, pleaded guilty to producing cannabis and in addition to the suspended prison sentence Judge Rose ordered him to do 220 hours of unpaid work for the community.

The judge was told that Dempsey had been in work for 19 years and his offending had been out of character.

His barrister Helen Chapman said Dempsey had made a stupid and impulsive decision to grow the drugs after being turned down for a bank loan.

She said he had now sorted out a debt repayment plan and his former matrimonial home had been sold.

Judge Rose told Dempsey that he appreciated the difficulties that caused him to embark on the enterprise, but it didn’t excuse his offending.