Man ran drugs farm to keep roof over head

Preston Crown Court

Preston Crown Court

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A homeless man was exploited by a man running a cannabis farm, a court has heard.

Luke Miller, was unemployed and desperate when the man offered him accommodation in Leyland in return for looking after a cannabis factory in a rented flat.

The 22-year-old, now of Bent Lane, Leyland, admitted charges of abstracting electricity worth more than £800 and producing cannabis earlier this year but the judge unusually deferred his sentence at that time to give him the opportunity to seek employment and turn his life around.

Prosecuting at Preston Crown Court, Rachel Faux said the cannabis farm was found when officials from a housing association visited the flat, in Leyland.

They found Miller living there with the cannabis being produced with a hydroponic set up in the property.

The tenant of the flat, Dean Ritchie Aspden, 35, of Larchwood Crescent, Leyland, who had “exploited” Miller when he was vulnerable, had been jailed for eight months for his role earlier this year, the court heard.

The judge, Recorder Ahmed Nadim, imposed 150 hours of unpaid work on Miller, and ordered him to have 12 months supervision and pay a £60 victim surcharge.

He said: “You know from what happened to your co-defendant that the court takes matters like this very seriously.

“Ordinarily I would have felt duty bound to send you to prison but being faithful to your basis of plea and the fact you’re only 22 with no prior relevant convictions, and that you have in this period of deferment you have delivered this series of changes, I’m going to honour the promise I made to you and I’m not going to send you to prison.”