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Council worker caught tending cannabis farm with 161 plants

PUBLISHED: 08:38 13 August 2020 | UPDATED: 10:02 13 August 2020

A county council worker has admitted to growing cannabis plants. Archive picture of plants at a different factory Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

A county council worker has admitted to growing cannabis plants. Archive picture of plants at a different factory Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Archant

A council worker has admitted growing more than 160 cannabis plants after falling into debt with drug dealers.

Appearing at Norwich Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, 31-year-old David Chadwick Shaw entered a guilty plea to a charge of cultivating a class B drug, after police discovered a cannabis factory in Watton.

The discovery was made on October 17 last year, prosecutor Robyn Khan said, when police found 161 cannabis plants growing in a commercial building.

She said the factory was fitted out with sophisticated equipment including adjustable light fittings and that evidence at the scene including fingerprints led police to Shaw, of Briar Road in Harleston.

She added: “He was involved in production on a commercial scale.”

Simon Nicholls, for Shaw, said his client was a father-of-two who worked for Norfolk County Council - and that he had got involved with the drug after first turning to it for pain relief.

He said: “He has had a torrid time over the last 10 years or so and suffered a serious injury to his leg.

“When he was 29 he started to use cannabis for pain relief and found himself using it more and more and built up a substantial debt with dealers.”

Mr Nicholls said this led to Shaw agreeing to lease a commercial property for his dealers to set up equipment in, which he then looked over.

He added: “He was threatened, shown a machete and told that the dealers knew where he lived. It was clear that to him he felt he had no other option.

“In essence, he was a gardener - he did not run the garden centre.”

Speaking tearfully from the dock Shaw said he realised he had made “poor choices” and that he “deserved to be punished”, but added that he was “really sorry”.

Mr Nicholls added: “There is no evidence, in my view, of him playing a leading role [in the production of the cannabis],”

Shaw will appear at Norwich Crown Court in due course for sentencing, after magistrates declined jurisdiction over his punishment. He was granted unconditional bail.


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