Published: 16:00, 23 October 2017
| Updated: 16:30, 23 October 2017
A father minding a cannabis factory was caught lying down on the job when police raided a remote £829,000 house, a court heard.
Nicholas Cox was reclining on a mattress in a “squalid” room surrounded by cannabis plants at the semi-detached property.
Officers seized 215 plants from “deserted” Crittenden Cottage in Colts Hill, Five Oak Green, with a value of up to £180,000.
Prosecutor Patrick Dennis said there were caravans in a field next to the house off Maidstone Road. A large quantity of freshly cropped herbal cannabis was found in an outbuilding.
When arrested on September 20, 36-year-old Cox, of no fixed address, said: “I was made to do it.”
Maidstone Crown Court was told he had four previous convictions for six offences. He was sentenced to eight months imprisonment suspended for a year in November last year for money laundering involving drugs.
He told police he was in debt as a result of losing drug dealing money and was working it off by looking after the cannabis farm.
Peter Marshall, defending, said Cox, who admitted producing a controlled drug, was put under pressure to “work” in the squalid conditions and had to be there 24 hours a day.
“He had no vehicle at the isolated spot,” said Mr Marshall. “He was performing a limited function under direction. I would suggest it is through naivete.
“It is a great shame that a man, aged 36, should find himself in court facing a custodial sentence. He has children aged nine and 13.
“He has not had much luck over the last few years. He is deeply embarrassed.”
Jailing Cox for three years, Judge Adele Williams said there was a “significant quantity” of cannabis plants involved.
“I sentence you on the basis you were drawn into this because you were perceived to owe a debt to drug dealers as a result of your conviction in 2016 for money laundering, when you lost a significant amount of money.
“You were looking after the plants playing a significant role.
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