'Desperate' builder allowed premises to be used as a cannabis factory – Stoke Sentinel

Bankrupt builder Jonathan Howcroft allowed his premises to be used for growing of tens of thousands of pounds’ worth of cannabis.

The 52-year-old was arrested after police raided a business unit in Sneyd Street, Leek, and found a sophisticated cannabis growing operation.

In total, officers recovered 211 cannabis plants, with a potential street value of £39,000. There were also the remains of 124 plants that could have produced cannabis worth £23,800.

The defendant’s phone number was on the outside of the unit and he was forensically linked to the premises.

Now Howcroft has been handed a suspended jail sentence at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court.

Jonathan Howcroft arriving at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court

Prosecutor Jonathan Dickinson said police executed a search warrant at the unit in Sneyd Street on April 8.

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Mr Dickinson told the court: “The defendant’s mobile was on the outside of the building. Officers forced entry and found a main grow room, with 106 plants being grown and 75 harvested plants.

“There was 70.4 grammes of cannabis in an industrial grinder, six electric fans, 38 lights which were illuminated, and several water butts in operation to water the plants.

“A nursery area was found when police removed a section of partitioning. There were 98 cannabis plants and 48 remains of plants.

“There was another room, a drying room, which contained seven cannabis plants. A drying tent outside the main grow room contained 311 grammes of cannabis vegetation.

“The electricity metre had been tampered with and the electricity had been bypassed.”

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In total, police experts found the potential value of the cannabis was £39,000. And the 124 remains could have produced cannabis worth £23,800.

Mr Dickinson added: “It

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