Builder Paul Lawrence helped grow cannabis on boat house in Seasalter
A Seasalter builder – who turned his boat house into a cannabis
factory – has escaped going straight to jail.
Paul Lawrence, 50, claimed he was planning to sell his home to
pay off mounting business debts when he was scammed by a
After being tricked into doing a £60,000 conversion to secure
the sale of the house in Faversham Road, the dad-of-six heard that
the man who offered to buy it had been jailed for fraud.
The court heard Michael Brock – a former London Underground
technician – had conned solicitors, estate agents and businesses
across Herne Bay with wild tales of winning the lottery.
Nicholas Jones, defending, told Canterbury Crown Court that
Lawrence was another of the conman’s victims.
As a result, the down-on-his luck builder converted his boat
house in Faversham Road – which he owned – so he could start
growing cannabis with a potential street value profit of up to
“It was a completely crazy plan, “ he added.
Canterbury Crown Court heard that Lawrence had also illegally
abstracted more than £4,200 of electricity to run the factory
where police found 117 plants growing.
Mr Jones claimed that the builder disputed that his illegal
activity should be described as “ a factory”.
“He accepts that the reason he did it was for financial gain. He
has worked his entire life as a builder and like so many others in
the construction industry has fallen on serious financial times
during the present recession.
“ He initially tried to solve those problems by selling his
house and struck an agreement with a male to sell it. He agreed to
do some expensive and substantial work to secure the sale, some
£60,000 worth of work.
“Unfortunately in the meantime the male who he had agreed to
sell the house to was arrested and subsequently imprisoned for
fraud. It turned out he was a conman. “ he added.
Mr Jones said because of his “dire consequences” he did
something that was “completely out of character” and decided to
rent out The Boat House to people to grow cannabis – but his
involvement then expanded to him helping kit it out.
“However his reaction upon arrest paints a true picture of this
man because it was one of relief . He realised that what he had
embarked on was completely crazy. He was relieved he was caught and
that it was over,” he added.
Lawrence who admitted cultivating cannabis was given a two-year
jail sentence which was suspended for two years.
He was also ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid work – and will be
under partial “house arrest” for the next six months.
The builder – who will be electronically tagged – has been told
to stay in his home between 7pm and 7 am until the end of July.
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