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User set up Torquay cannabis farm to pay off debt

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: May 30, 2012

Wayne Comber: Jailed for 20 months

A cannabis user has been jailed for setting up a £50,000-a-year growing operation to pay off a debt of just £500 to dealers.

Wayne Comber was given the money to rent a house and buy all the specialist growing equipment he needed to set up the sophisticated operation.

He was even required to take photographs of the progress of the plants and send them to the dealer to show him he was doing his job, Exeter Crown Court was told.

Comber, 24, of Upton Road, Torquay, admitted producing cannabis at Shirwell Valley Road, Torquay, and was jailed for 20 months by Recorder Llewellyn Sellick.

He is already serving 18 months for a horrific assault on his ex-girlfriend in which he dragged her down the road by her ponytail. He will start this sentence when that one ends.

The Recorder told him: "You were consuming a considerable amount of cannabis which was costing you over £100 a week. You had lost your job and had drug debts in the region of £500.

"You were simply told the dealer would write off these debts if you set up a cannabis farm for him. He gave you the money so you could rent the house and buy the equipment.

"You were bringing one crop of 48 plants to maturity and your understanding was that once it had been harvested you would have discharged your obligation.

"The facility you had set up was going to continue to produce four crops a year and generate an income of around £50,000. It was a significant role."

Mr David Bowen, prosecuting, said Comber was given extremely detailed instructions on what to do and told to take photographs to prove he was following orders.

When the house was raided by police he claimed initially it was all his own project but changed his story when detectives pointed out that the rent alone was more than his job seekers' allowance.

He said there were 48 plants nearing maturity and 134 more seedlings in a nursery area, suggesting an ongoing operation with the capacity to produce four crops a year with an estimated street value of £12,600 each.

Mr Nick Bradley, defending, said: "He accepts there was a degree of management and financial motivation, but there was also some coercion and he had no influence on the people who were directing him."

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