Cancer victim who ran cannabis factory at his Widnes home gets jail term slashed (From Runcorn and Widnes World)
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Widnes cancer victim who ran cannabis factory has his jail sentence cut
A RECOVERING cancer victim jailed for setting up a sophisticated cannabis factory at his Widnes home has convinced top judges to slash his sentence.
Mark Scott, aged 45, of Washington Close, had kitted out a cultivation den in a hidden passage behind a fake wall, and installed a cannabis nursery in his loft, capable of harvesting £41,000 worth of drugs every year.
He was jailed for five years at Chester Crown Court in May after he admitted producing cannabis and abstracting electricity.
Three senior judges at London's Court of Appeal yesterday accepted his punishment was "manifestly excessive" and cut it to four years.
Mr Justice Burnett said police raided Scott's home in September, 2012 and found a false wall behind a shelf, which hid a cannabis factory with 40 plants, water and filtration systems and a lighting unit.
In the loft, they discovered a nursery, with cuttings to produce further cannabis plants.
Stashed around the house were broken down quantities of cannabis worth £6,600, dealer bags, a grinder, scales and other dealing gear.
The appeal judge said: “This was a substantial commercial operation.”
Officers also found a mobile phone with messages which showed Scott was producing the illicit substance to be sold on and that some of the new plants in the nursery were destined for other growers.
Evidence that Scott had by-passed electricity for his operation also emerged from the raid.
In a police interview, Scott admitted producing the drugs but insisted he was doing it for “personal, medicinal” use, rather than profit.
Scott was diagnosed with cancer in 2010 and underwent chemotherapy which, whilst successfully treating the disease, left him with severe pain in his hip and shin and chronic indigestion.
He takes a “constellation of medication" as a result, the judge added.
On appeal, Scott's lawyer, Paul Lewis, argued that the judge took too high a starting point and failed to reflect his personal mitigation.
The judge, sitting with Lord Justice Fulford and Mr Justice Hickinbottom, said Scott's hopeless insistence that the drugs were for his own use may have detracted from his "substantial illness and disability" when he came to be sentenced.
He concluded: "The relatively light appearance of the aggravating features, but also the strong mitigation available to Scott, result in the conclusion that the starting point of six years, before credit for his guilty plea, was indeed too high.
"The resulting sentence of five years was manifestly excessive. We consider that the sentence in this case should have been one of four years' imprisonment.”
The appeal was granted.