Couple jailed for cannabis factory in Co Down home


A wheelchair-bound woman and her partner were sent to jail on Friday for their role in a cannabis growing operation which was discovered in an out-house beside their home.

Carol Crone, 61, and 55-year-old Ronald Moore were arrested after police called at their Seaforde home in Co Down on an unrelated matter and noticed a strong smell of herbal cannabis at the premises.

The pair, who now live at Old Ballynahinch Road in Lisburn, appeared at Downpatrick Crown Court sitting in Belfast, where they were sentenced on two charges – cultivating cannabis and possessing the Class B drug.

The court heard that when police called to the couple’s rural home on the Demesne Road on April 28, 2013 and noticed the strong smell, they searched the out-house and discovered a cannabis cultivation plant.

Cited in court as “clearly a growing operation” involving 130 plants, it emerged that Crone and Moore must have known about the operation, despite their initial denials. During a further search of their home, police found more cannabis – some of which was spoiled.

Other equipment associated with growing cannabis – including bags of compost and heat lamps – was also located in the out house. The value of the cannabis located at the property amounted to around £35,000.

When she was arrested, Crone initially denied the charges but subsequently said she facilitated the growing operation by providing access to the out-house. Regarding the small amount of drugs found in her home, the mother of two said this was for personal use.

During his sentencing remarks, Judge Gordon Kerr QC said he accepted that the couple didn’t benefit financially from the enterprise.

Addressing Crone, who appeared in court and sat outside the dock in a wheelchair, Judge Kerr said he acknowledged her mental and physical difficulties. She was handed an 18-month sentence – six months to be served in prison with the remaining 12 months on supervised licence when she is released.

Moore, who the court heard refuses to accept responsibility for the offending despite the guilty plea, has a previous criminal record. He was handed a 21-month sentence, half of which will be served in custody with the remainder of the sentence spent on supervised licence.