Cannabis farmer avoids jail over 25k crop

Colin Shields

Colin Shields

A drug-user who claimed he planned to smoke his way through over £25,000-worth of cannabis has been handed a community payback order.

There were 51 cannabis plants in an industrial unit rented by Colin Shields but the Crown accepted his claim it was not a commercial venture and was planned for his own personal use.

Shields (59) was all smiles as he left Dunfermline Sheriff Court, having avoided both a jail term and also a confiscation order.

Shields, of Alder Terrace, Methil, previously admitted that on 16th February last year at Unit 1, Kennoway Burns in Kennoway, he produced a controlled drug, cannabis.

He also admitted possession of cannabis with intent to supply it.

He said he smoked cannabis to ease the pain of arthritis, occasionally gave some to his friends but not for payment and that no-one else knew about the cultivation.

Depute fiscal Azrah Yousaf said the premises had been leased to the accused and was found to house a “sophisticated cannabis cultivation”.

Police had attended after a tip-off and could detect a strong smell from one of the units. The owners of the unit were contacted and they attended as the police forced entry.

Shields was not present but a white van registered to him was parked outside.

When interviewed by police later, Shields admitted renting the premises and growing cannabis there.

Ms Yousaf said, “When he was asked how many plants there were, he said thought there were 30 and that nobody else knew about it.

“When told there were 51 plants he said it had got out of hand.”

He told police he smoked 10 joints a day to “make him calm” and the cultivation was for his own use.

However, he said he may have given some to “people who were sick”. He said he regretted what he had done.

Defence solicitor Martin McGuire said the industrial units had been lying derelict and his client had taken one on while agreeing to renovate the others.

He was carrying out electrical work on his unit when he came upon the idea to cultivate cannabis for his own use.

His client has suffered a stroke just before the police raid but had since returned to work as a delivery driver for a fast food take-away.

Shields submitted his guilty plea back in February but sentencing had been delayed as the Crown pursued a confiscation order under proceeds of crime legislation – despite the fact it had accepted Shields’ position that he made no money from the operation.

In February, Sheriff Charles MacNair questioned whether the Crown was fully accepting Shield’s story that he was “not receiving a penny piece for any of this?” and that was confirmed.

At the sentencing hearing, Sheriff Chris Shead made Shields subject to a community payback order with 120 hours of unpaid work. He also rejected the application for a confiscation order.