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Dad takes rap after son grows cannabis

This is Bristol, 1st August 2006

A Roofer who discovered his house had been used to grow cannabis by his son has been handed community punishment. John Watkins returned to his home in Andover Road, Knowle, where his son admitted cultivating the Class C drug, Bristol Crown Court heard.

It turned out he was nurturing 49 plants in an upstairs bedroom.

Watkins, 47, pleaded guilty to permitting his premises to be used for the production of a Class C drug.

Imposing a 12-month community punishment order with 100 hours unpaid work, the recorder, Mr Nicholas Atkinson QC, told him: "Cannabis may have been reclassified as Class C but cultivation is taken very seriously and the maximum penalty is 14 years.

"It is exceptional for a non-custodial sentence to be passed.

"It's clear the cultivation was done by another on your premises over which you had very little control and, therefore, there are exceptional circumstances."

Sally Thompson, prosecuting, said the house in Andover Road was owned by Watkins and his son lived there.

She said police executed a search warrant at the three-bedroom home in November last year and found a cannabis-growing set-up in an upstairs bedroom with available plant material found to weigh 1.4 kilograms. In interview Watkins, a man of no previous convictions, told police he was not aware of the scale of cannabis production.

Jason Taylor, defending, told the court: "Mr Watkins' basis of plea was that it was his son.

"He works away as an industrial roofer, he came home on a weekend and his son said he was growing cannabis.

"He doesn't condone drugs in any shape or form. He was afraid to pursue the matter too much."

Mr Taylor said his client's concern was that his son was a class A drugs user and he thought that cannabis production could well have been a lesser evil than the use of the stronger drug.

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