A 28-year old man who was caught growing cannabis in his rented accommodation after the landlady “took the opportunity to examine the premises” was on Monday handed a two-year sentence.
Paul Michael Stewart, from Brucevale Park in Belfast, was told he will spend a year in custody with a further 12 months on supervised licence when he is released from prison.
The chef appeared in the dock of Belfast Crown Court and was handed the sentence after admitting three charges - namely cultivating cannabis, possessing the Class B drug and also dishonestly using electricity.
The court heard the offending came to light on November 29, 2013 when the landlady of an apartment on the Stranmillis Road which was rented by Stewart decided to examine the property. What she found was a cannabis factory which had been set up in the flat and which consisted of a total of 246 plants growing in various stages.
When Stewart was arrested and questioned about the cannabis factory, he made full admissions.
Stewart’s solicitor told Judge David McFarland that his client was “put under a significant amount of duress” to grow the drugs, and was targetted at a “vulnerable” period in his life.
The solicitor also said that Stewart - who does not use cannabis but who is an alcohol abuser - had expressed remorse for his actions.
Sentencing Stewart, Judge McFarland said that those who grow cannabis then sell it to others can expect to receive a prison sentence. The judge also ordered that the drugs be destroyed.