Driving instructor from Lowestoft grew cannabis plants to pay for dog surgery

Ipswich Crown Court

Ipswich Crown Court - Credit: Archant

A driving instructor from Lowestoft grew a crop of cannabis plants to pay for a lifesaving operation for his dog has walked free, a court has heard.

Police officers went to Damon Hickinbotham's home in Union Place, and noticed a strong smell of cannabis and found eight immature cannabis plants as well as a growing kit which included lighting and a timer, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

Robert Sadd, prosecuting, said the potential wholesale value of the crop was estimated at around £1,200 while its street value was estimated at a potential £3,810 if all the plants had reached maturity.

Hickinbotham, 36, admitted possessing cannabis with intent to supply and production of cannabis in February and was given an eight-month prison sentence suspended for 18 months and ordered to do 180 hours unpaid work in the community.

Danielle O'Donovan for Hickinbotham said her client's 15-year-old dog had needed a lifesaving operation costing £1,000.

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She said the defendant had a friend who knew someone he could sell the cannabis he was growing in one go and he had decided to give it a try.

'He wasn't going to involve himself in multiple deals to multiple people. It was going to be a one-off to pay for his dog's lifesaving surgery,' said Miss O'Donovan.

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She said the 15-year-old dog had suffered a stroke and kidney failure but had recovered well following surgery.

The court heard that Hickinbotham had no previous convictions and faced losing his employment as a driving instructor as a result of his conviction.

Miss O'Donovan said her client had started using cannabis for pain relief after suffering a work-related injury.

She said he had been using cannabis for a number of years but had now no longer used it at all.

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