A KIDNEY patient was forced by loan sharks to keep a cannabis farm in his North East home after falling deep into debt.
Darron Anderson let the criminals set up the drugs factory, which was capable of producing a kilo of cannabis every 12 weeks, in a bid to reduce the mounting sums he owed.
The 45-year-old, of Cairo Street, Hendon, Sunderland, was visibly very unwell when he appeared in the dock at Newcastle Crown Court yesterday.
He pleaded guilty to allowing his premises to be used to produce a Class B drug. The court heard Anderson is suffering from chronic renal failure and has to undergo dialysis three times per week.
He was forced to let the money lenders set up the farm when his debts grew to almost £8,000.
Prosecutor Kevin Wardlaw told the court: “The crown’s case is, in effect, he had fallen into financial difficulties and borrowed from loan sharks and had basically acted under duress.
“He had been told he would have to allow his premises to be used by other people to cultivate the cannabis.
“The crown accept he himself was not operating this farm.”
The court heard the prosecution authorities have information which backs up Anderson’s version of events. Judge Jeremy Freedman sentenced him to a community order for 12 months with supervision.
He told Anderson: “This case is very different to many offences of its type
“The circumstances in which you came to have these cannabis plants is somewhat unusual.
“I am quite satisfied you didn’t acquire them and were not operating the farm, but being imposed upon by those to whom you owed money and were given little choice in the matter.”
The farm was found after police received a tip-off and raided Anderson’s home last February.
Mr Wardlaw said: “What was found was a cannabis farm consisting of 26 plants.
“The potential yield was just over a kilo every 12 weeks.”