Pensioner grew almost 700 cannabis plants for chronic pain

Breckland Police found more than 700 cannabis plants in an outbuilding in Houghton Lane, North Picke

Breckland Police found more than 700 cannabis plants in an outbuilding in Houghton Lane, North Pickenham. Photo: Breckland Police - Credit: Breckland Police

A pensioner who grew almost 700 cannabis plants to treat chronic pain has been ordered to pay back £3,000 which he had 'scrimped' to save, a court heard.

Charles Nichols, 67, was found growing the cannabis when police raided his home in Houghton Lane, North Pickenham, in February, last year, after a police drone found a large amount of heat coming from a shed.

Norwich Crown Court heard the shed contained a sophisticated set up with hydroponic equipment, lights and 693 plants, together with herbal cannabis in bags.

Nichols said that he had been growing the cannabis for personal health reasons and wanted to "self-medicate" against the pain he was suffering.

He was given a 24 month suspended jail sentence in September, last year, after he admitted production of cannabis and illegally abstracting electricity between January 2017 and February 2018.

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Nichols was back in court for a proceeds of crime hearing on Friday to claw back some of the cash from the cannabis production.

Emma Reed, for Nichols, said there was no financial gain with the cannabis he had grown.

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She said that he had no assets apart from the house he shared with his wife, and said the couple lived mainly on their pension with some help from their children.

She said the case had been difficult for the couple and said: "It has already had an enormous toll on them.

Miss Reed said Nichols had grown the cannabis because of the chronic pain he suffered.

She said his health was still not good and said: "His health is not getting any better and is getting worse."

Miss Reed said: "The only asset he has is his family home which he has lived in for 30 years."

She said the family home had no connection with the cannabis production.

After hearing that Nichols was of limited means with his only asset being the home he shared with his wife, Judge Stephen Holt agreed to make the order for £3000.

He said that Nichols would have to serve two months in default of not paying the money.

Making the order Judge Holt said that he had seen letters from Nichols GP and accepted his health was fragile. He added: "The £3000 is cash they have saved up. They must have scrimped and saved to get that amount."

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