A judge doubted that a Burnley man who claimed to be in charge of a cannabis farm was behind the transport after a birthday card to his co-defendant was found on the property.
Jamie Howarth walked into a police station and confessed after officers inadvertently discovered a farm of 43 plants grown in a house on Piccadilly Road in Burnley in March 2020.
Preston Crown Court learned yesterday (May 4) that officers had been called to an address in the Trinity neighborhood of Burnley amid fears an individual was suicidal, but had ‘ deceived ” in the wrong property.
“They broke into 43 Piccadilly Road, and when they entered the house, they found the cannabis farm upstairs,” said prosecutor Alison Mather.
“The correct address was on a parallel road, but they were in the wrong house by mistake.”
The court heard that in the two upstairs bedrooms, officers found 20 cannabis plants, up to three feet in height, that were ready to be harvested.
“In the attic, two more box tents covered the majority of the space,” Miss Mather said.
“They found 11 plants and 12 plants in the tents. As officers waited for utilities to arrive to make sure everything was safe, they searched the ground floor and found a black garbage bag under the stairs containing cannabis residue, micro scales and cannabis packaging.
The house and a Land Rover Defender parked outside were both registered with Ryan Lord, and recently opened letters inside the property were addressed to Lord with a birthday card barely two weeks old. .
Other items including a Rolex watch, children’s toys, needles and steroids were also found on the property and are believed to have belonged to Lord.
Lord has pleaded not guilty to producing cannabis and is due to stand trial next May.
At Preston Crown Court, judge Simon Newell said he suspected Howarth was being honest about being solely responsible.
“(The house) has all the characteristics of being inhabited by Mr. Lord and no one else,” the judge said.
“I have pretty strong suspicions, given Mr. Howarth’s background, the lack of conviction and what I know about Mr. Lord.
“You know he’s a coachbuilder and doesn’t disrespect you, Mr. Howarth, but you don’t look like a coachbuilder. Expensive clothes were found inside and in a Cinderella test they wouldn’t fit on you, they would fit on her.
The court heard that initially only Lord was arrested and claimed he had not lived at the address ‘for some time’ but allowed Howarth to live there as he was homeless.
The 43 plants are said to have produced a total of 2.67kg of cannabis with a market value of between £ 21,000 and £ 33,000.
Howarth, 34, was questioned by police in July last year and said he moved into the house in the second half of 2019. He told officers he was a heavy consumer of cannabis and that he had set up the farm for his own use, but accepted its value. was much more important than for personal use.
Howarth’s defense attorney said he was ‘not a man who would disturb the courts again’.
“He’s asking me to say he’s really sorry; he does not intend to repeat his mistakes and he simply put himself in a bad position at the time, ”added the lawyer.
Judge Newell said there was “ substantial evidence ” that Lord was involved in the creation of the cannabis farm.
“I can accept that you were a cannabis user, I can accept that you were unemployed and lost your job and maybe had drug debt, but what I find it hard to accept is is that you alone created this cannabis farm, ”Judge Newell told Howarth.
“Apparently you walked into the police station and said it was all up to you, even though they had no evidence against you.
“They had substantial evidence against Ryan Lord. There is substantial evidence that he was involved in this cannabis cultivation, although he denied it.
“There can be a number of reasons why you walked into this police station and confessed.
“He blames you for growing cannabis. There is ample evidence to suggest that Mr. Lord was involved.
“The letters that were sent to him at that address were there. An expensive vehicle on the outside was his. His birthday is March 9, 1991 and there was an open birthday card with a photo of him and his card exposed.
Despite his strong suspicions that Lord was also heavily involved in the cannabis farm, Judge Newell said he ‘could not wait’ until the conclusion of Lord’s trial next year to convict Howarth.
Jailing Howarth for 12 months, the judge added: “There is a strong suspicion that the courts are being manipulated. I’m sorry, Mr. Howarth, but it’s the best I can do for you.
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