A cannabis grower who was caught in the act of turning a rented house into a drugs factory has had his jail term cut by a third on appeal.
Ellesmere Port man Joseph James Bowen was arrested after police raided the property in Liverpool, and found work going on to transform the loft space into a cannabis factory and 49 saplings crammed inside a tent in an upstairs bedroom.
The 22-year-old, of Chester Road, Whitby, was jailed for three years at Liverpool Crown Court in April, after he admitted producing the class B drug and abstracting electricity.
But his sentence has now been cut to two years by judges sitting at London’s Criminal Appeal Court, who said the original term was ‘excessive’.
The court heard police raided the property on September 17 last year and discovered Bowen, who had rented the property just four weeks earlier, there with three other men.
They found the infant plants inside a tent – which had been fitted out with cannabis-growing equipment – in an upstairs bedroom and noticed work had begun on installing further equipment in the loft space.
They also discovered the electricity meter had been bypassed and a search of Bowen’s own home revealed he had a set of ‘dealer’s’ scales and a document relating to the drugs.
Bowen claimed he was not to be involved in either the harvesting or the sale of the plants, but this was not accepted by the Crown Prosecution Service and it was eventually agreed that he played a ‘significant role’ in the operation.
The court heard he had previous convictions, including one in Spain from which he had only recently been released at the time of these offences.
His lawyers argued his jail term was over the top given the scale of the factory and the relatively low value of the young plants discovered.
Allowing the appeal, Mr Justice Openshaw said the sentence was excessive when taking into account all the features of the case.
Sitting with Lord Justice McCombe and Mrs Justice Thirlwall, he added: “The sentence, in our judgement, should have been one or two years.”