May 4 2011 By Siba Matti
A CRACK cocaine addict has been spared jail after growing cannabis plants to clear a drug debt.
Police uncovered 23 fully grown plants when they raided Sean Murphy's home in Buttlehide, Maple Cross, near Rickmansworth.
St Albans Crown Court heard yesterday (3) that the 44-year-old, who was a tenant in the property, ran out onto a grassy area as officers arrived, but was stopped and arrested.
Murphy, who is unemployed, was asked if there was something inside the flat that should not be there. He responded, 'yeah, there are 20 plants inside'.
Prosecuting, Robert Colover said Murphy gave the officers a key to a room in the property that had been converted into an area for growing cannabis. In total there were 23 plants with flowering heads.
Murphy told the police he had accumulated a £1,600 drug debt caused through using crack cocaine. To clear the debt, he agreed to grow the class B drug for people he refused to name, the court heard.
The 44-year-old admitted cultivating cannabis. He was also in breach of a conditional discharge for assaulting a security guard at a supermarket.
Representing, Charles Judge said Murphy was a vulnerable drug user who had a history of depression and had been exploited by others.
He has since sought help from a drug charity.
Recorder Philip Brook-Smith QC told Murphy that when he was arrested, he knew 'it was a fair cop'.
He sentenced him to a three years in prison, suspended for 18 months, with 12 months supervision.
Murphy must also attend a drug rehabilitation programme three times a week, including drugs testing and one-to-one counselling. He was also ordered to pay £200 court costs, at £5 per week.
Recorder Brook-Smith QC added: "If you can get off drugs it is more than likely to keep you from offending."