Man pressurised into involvement in cannabis growing operation near Thetford, court hears

PUBLISHED: 19:12 20 August 2018 | UPDATED: 19:12 20 August 2018

Norwich Crown Court. Picture Adrian Judd.

Norwich Crown Court. Picture Adrian Judd.

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A man claimed he was pressurised into becoming involved in a cannabis growing operation in Breckland, which had a potential street value of more than £70,000, a court heard.

Shaun Spriddell, 48, was found growing a crop of 70 cannabis plants in an outbuildings near his home in Didlington, near Mundford, when police raided the premises in March 2016, Norwich Crown Court heard.

Philip Farr, prosecuting, said there were 16 plants in one outbuilding and further 58 plants in a neighbouring property, with a potential street value of £38,000.

He said while bailed for that offence, police raided the premises again in April 2017 when this time they found 69 plants cannabis plants being grown with a similar potential yield.

Mr Farr said when interviewed by police, Spriddell said that he had been put under pressure by others to provide premises to grow the cannabis plants and denied active involvement.

Spriddell, formerly of Poppyfields Brandon, was due to go on trial but before it started he changed his plea and admitted producing cannabis on March 15 and producing cannabis on April 11.

The court heard he had previous convictions, but no drug offences.

Simon Gledhill, for Spriddell, said that he had been subjected to threats and intimidation over the cannabis growing operation.

“He regrets having bowed to pressure to facilitate this offence.”

He said that Spriddell was full of remorse and said that he had been waiting two and half years for the case to finally be resolved: “It has been a source of considerable anxiety.”

He accepted that some of the delay was down to Spriddell himself but said: “It can be difficult to take responsibility for something you were forced to do.”

He said that Spriddell was a hardworking family man.

Judge Stephen Holt said it was an unusual case and accepted that Spriddell had been put under pressure to get involved in the cannabis production.

He said Spriddell had come very close to going to straight to jail but instead gave him a 20 month jail sentence suspended for two years.

He also ordered him to do 180 hours unpaid work.

A confiscation hearing was adjourned to a later date to try to claw any cash back.

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