A CANNABIS addict caught growing 20 plants in Wem with a potential yield of thousand of pounds has been spared jail after a judge ruled they were not for 'commercial' use.

Benjamin Golding, of no fixed abode, was caught at a property in Wem on August 28, 2021 after police raided it to find the plants and related growing paraphernalia, such as lamps and tents.

Golding appeared in front of District Judge Marcus Waite at Telford Magistrates Court on Thursday, having previous pleaded guilty in May this year to the production of cannabis, plus possession of the drug and cocaine.

However, he told the court – in a special Newton Hearing – that the plants, with an estimated street value of between £1,900 and £2,800, were for his own use given his weekly intake of around 14g.

But District Judge Waite refuted Golding's claim that anything over that would be thrown away, giving his own admission that he knew how to sell the drugs if needed.

He said: "The prosecution bring this case and need to prove – the court therefore needs to be sure that the case is correct.

"That this can was being grown for wider circulation or the court needs to be sure that any benefit of the doubt goes to the defendant.

"An expert said it is unlikely it would be smoke at four to five grams a day which the defendant says.

"I also have a problem with that figure.

"I accept this was the first crop, and that it is possible that growing cannabis for the first time, he wouldn’t know how much he was going to get.

"If he gets far more than he can smoke then what to do with it?

"I find it difficult that the defendant would simply throw it away if he is an addict.

"You were not found with mobile phones with messages over them or scales. I don’t think your primary aim was to sell it, you are just a smoker.

"I think there is a significant opportunity that some of this would’ve been passed on but I don’t think you were growing it exclusively for selling it on."

In sentencing Golding, DJ Waite paid tribute to his early guilty plea and his work on staying out of trouble.

He added: "There is no evidence of reoffending and you have co-operated with the pre-sentence report.

"You have accommodation difficulties but you do have some work and have cut your cannabis use down, plus access to your daughter through an access centre."

Golding was given an 18-month community order and 30 rehabilitation activity days, plus 80 hours of unpaid work.

He was also ordered to pay £300 in costs and £95 victim surcharge, while the destruction order was made for the plants.