Man jailed for having cannabis factory at his flat - Houghton Regis

22/11/2012

Houghton Regis man David Peckham allowed his flat to be turned into a cannabis factory as a way of repaying a drug debt.

But it proved costly for Peckham.

Getting involved in the murky world of cannabis production landed him with a severe beating at his flat in Leaf Road and when cops were called to investigate, they uncovered the factory and the game was up.

On Thursday he paid the price of another kind when a judge sent him to prison for two years.

Judge Richard Foster, sitting at Luton Crown Court, told the 29 year old: "Cannabis is a dangerous substance.  Time and time again, those of us who work in the criminal justice system see reports of young men whose brains have been
addled by cannabis use and end up with psychiatric problems."

The judge said the new type of stronger Skunk cannabis now on the market, and which was being grown by Peckham, posed even more harm.

Peckham, who has a young son, pleaded guilty to producing cannabis.

Claudette Elliott, prosecuting, told how on the night of May 12 this year police received reports of an incident at the home of Peckham and, as a result, went to the property.

After gaining entry to the flat, they saw signs of a bloody footprint, as well as cannabis plants growing there.

Further up the street, the defendant was found bare chested and with no shoes on.  He had suffered an injury to the side of his face and was taken to hospital.

Back at his flat, police found 67 cannabis plants growing in a bedroom, as well as more in the living room.

Some plants were close to being harvested and it was clear that the electricity supply had been tampered with to allow free use of heating and lighting.

The court heard that in all, 93 plants were discovered, which would have produced a crop of 5.2kg of cannabis.

Miss Elliott said that, based on street deals of between £20 and £35, the crop would have been worth between £29,760 and £52,080.

Not only that, but it appeared that an operation had been set up to harvest a crop once every three months.

In an interview with police after his release from hospital, Peckham claimed he had been drawn into allowing his flat to be used for the growing of cannabis as a way of paying back a £300 drug debt.

He claimed he had no idea who had beaten him up at his flat and said it could have been a rival drug gang.

Andrew Walklate, defending, said "He doesn't know who perpetrated the violence. Someone was to have come in to harvest the cannabis."

"In essence, he is the gardener for letting his flat be used and electricity to be used and keeping an eye on the plants."

Judge Foster said he disagreed and said Peckham had played a significant role by allowing his premises to be used.

The judge also questioned Peckham's claims that he had been coerced and was under pressure to allow his flat to be used and said he had weeks if not months to go to the police and tell them what was happening.

Mr Walklate went on:  "He got himself involved in a drug debt and, to alleviate himself of the debt, he allowed his premises to be used."

Passing sentence, the judge said that those who got involved in the criminal world of drug production had to take the risk that outside "the rule of law" they would be subject to violence.

He jailed him for two years and ordered the destruction forfeiture of the plants and the paraphernalia.

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