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Judge takes pity on pensioner, 74, who grew 12,000 of cannabis to pay for son's drug rehab
Frank Jones grew plants worth 12,000 from seed in Yorkshire home
He hoped to raise 2,500 to pay for rehab for his drug addict sonJudge Paul Watson QC said letting him off jail was 'the right thing to do'
14:30 GMT, 11 December 2012
A judge took pity on a 74-year-old man who grew cannabis to pay for a drugs rehabilitation course for his addict son.
Desperate Frank Jones grew seven plants worth 12,000 in a small bedroom at his home in South Yorkshire.
The former oil-rig worker planned to sell the plants to raise cash to pay for his son to undergo rehabilitation.
Frank Jones, left, grew cannabis at his home near Worsbrough Commmon, right, to send his son to rehab
Jones was facing from six months to three years in prison as a 'significant' producer of the class B drug under current sentencing guidelines.
But Judge Paul Watson QC, sitting at Sheffield Crown Court, said he was suspending the jail term because Jones' son was having difficulties and he 'just wanted to put him on the straight and narrow.'
Police officers were called to Jones' address after a strong smell of cannabis was reported coming from the property.
Gardener and former allotment holder Jones took the officers upstairs to the bedroom and they found a sophisticated growing set-up with seven plants.
The estimated yield of 398 grammes would have been worth 12,000 on the streets.
Iain Hillis, prosecuting, said after his arrest Jones was 'brutally frank' with the police.
Illegal crop: Jones said growing the drugs was 'as easy as growing tomatoes' but guaranteed the judge it would never happen again
Mr Hillis said: 'He denied taking cannabis and said he was growing it commercially so he could pay for his son, rather ironically, to receive private access to a rehab clinic.'
It was a commercial enterprise and he was a “significant” grower towards the lower end of the sentencing guidelines.
The former oil rig worker said he believed the plants were only worth between 2,000 and 3,000 and he got the idea to grow cannabis from a fellow gardener.
He had not even worked out how he would sell the plants or find someone to buy them.
Sheffield Crown Court: Judge Paul Watson QC said Jones just wanted to put his son 'on the straight and narrow'
Jones, of Worsbrough Common, Barnsley admitted producing a class B controlled drug on August 7.
Judge Watson told the court: 'It clearly crosses the custody threshold. Can I suspend it The answer is “yes”.'
He said Jones was growing cannabis to sell but he fully accepted it was for the benefit of his drug-ravaged son.
'Growing cannabis albeit on a relatively small scale always attracts a prison sentence,' the judge told him. 'What I have had to decide is whether to suspend it in your case. I have decided the right thing is to do so.'
'As long as you don't commit any further offences you won't hear any more of it.'
-Judge Paul Watson, QC
He gave Jones a six-month jail term suspended for a year and told him: 'As long as you don't commit any further offences you won't hear any more of it.'
The judge ordered the confiscation and destruction of the drug-growing equipment and plants. Jones, who was wearing a suit and tie replied: 'It's all gone, Your Honour, thank you very much.'
After the hearing all he would say was: 'They told me it was a funny idea but it was the right idea if you know my son. I am highly satisfied with the verdict and I can guarantee it will never happen again.'
No details were given in court about his son or his drug problems.
But Jones explained after an earlier court hearing: 'You tell me any parent who sees their son suffering who would not do just about anything to help them.
'I used to work in Amsterdam and was offered cannabis to smoke and said “no”. Now I'm being branded as some sort of drug dealer.
'They said the plants I grew had a value of almost 12,000 just from a packet of seeds All I wanted was to make 2,500 to get my son into rehab because he has a serious drugs problem.
'Are they telling me those plants are worth all that money To be honest it was as easy growing them as tomatoes. I'm no drug dealer and when the police came to the house and took them away I didn't think I had anything to worry about.
'When the letter arrived saying I had to go to court and I learned what I was charged with I was gobsmacked.'