Dealer grew cannabis as a hobby but got ‘overly enthusiastic’, court hears

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A drug dealer was spared jail after a court heard he was not running a ‘typical supply chain’, and may have simply been an overly enthusiastic grower.

John Heathcote of Ferney Bottom Cottages, Harpur Hill, Buxton was described as having previous good character at the court, and claimed that after he started taking cannabis for health reasons his interest in herbal horticulture escalated.

Derby Crown Court heard at a sentencing hearing on Friday, August 14 that the 43-year-old would be set free on a suspended sentence, only to be served if he re-offends over the next two years.

He was arrested in November 2014 after using cannabis for health problems, claiming he had just had the drug.

“He was trying to get off the drug the best he can,” heard the court.

Defence counsel Phillip Boyd said: “I would suggest it is not dealing in the normal sense.

“It is not just one-way traffic, sometimes he is getting it and sometimes he is giving it away.

“Clearly it is a significant amount of cannabis, but it had become his hobby - it is what he was doing with his spare time, and he got overly enthusiastic.”

And Heathcote was spared jail partly on the basis that his father is vulnerable and relied on him for financial support.

The court heard: “If the defendant goes to prison has father loses the home. Given the fact he was very cooperative with police a custodial sentence is not in order.”

Presiding over the sentencing hearing, Recorder Dominic Nolan QC, said: “There is no doubt that production of drugs warrants an immediate custodial sentence.

“You are a man in his forties, you have previous good character and that is an aspect in your favour.”

So he suspended Heathcote’s year-long sentence for two years, as well as passing a a six-month supervision period under the probation service and 150 hours of unpaid work.

The judge added: “Dealing is an offence that would normally merit an immediate custodial sentence.”