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No snow on house roof was giveaway to drugs officers

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A man was caught growing cannabis in his home after police noticed it was the only house in the street with no snow on the roof.

Officers found 431 illegal plants growing in Tu H Ma's house in Shottens Close, Beaumont Leys, Leicester, on January 25.

They also discovered heat lamps, and the loft space had been converted to hold extraction equipment.

Ma (54), who was living with his second wife and two young children, admitted producing the class B drug and was jailed for two-and-a-half years at Leicester Crown Court on Wednesday.

John Hallissey, prosecuting, said police went to the premises as all the other roofs in the street were covered in snow and there was a pungent aroma of cannabis outside.

The defendant and his family were sharing one bedroom, while two other bedrooms had been converted to grow cannabis.

Mr Hallissey told the court: "It was a professional set up.

"There were far more plants than could be fully grown on the premises."

The court heard there was an estimated yield of 4.75kg, with a wholesale value of £14,000.

However, the harvest from several crops could have had an annual street value of up to £108,000 a year.

Probation officer Paul Yates gave a verbal pre-sentence report in court.

He said Ma, a Vietnamese refugee, came to the UK in 1987 and obtained British citizenship in 1995.

Mr Yates said the defendant was unable to pay his first wife a £28,500 divorce settlement and borrowed the money from a contact in his community.

After that, he was under pressure to repay the debt.

Mr Yates said: "It was suggested he could repay it by way of allowing his property to be used for the activities described. He agreed to have the equipment installed in his property and to supervise it, by tending to the crop through three cycles.

"He says he's never used cannabis and initially resisted. He depicted himself as someone driven to this course of action through desperation."

Jasmine Kumar, mitigating, said Ma was employed part-time in the kitchen of a takeaway.

She said: "He provides a caring role to his children."

If he was jailed, his wife's job as a carer would be in jeopardy, she said.

Sentencing, Recorder Richard Swain said: "It's said it was to pay off a debt and pressure was imposed to carry out this unlawful trade. Cannabis was grown by you in a house occupied by two young children, aged nine and six."

• Read more court and crime news at www.thisisleicestershire.co.uk/crime

No snow on house roof was  giveaway to drugs officers


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