Father-of-three caught growing 92 cannabis plants in Lincolnshire home
POLICE officers called out to a suspected house burglary stumbled across an illicit cannabis farm, Lincoln Crown Court was told.
A report of a burglary in progress caused officers to visit the home of Michael Bridger in Middlemarsh Road, Burgh le Marsh, but when they arrived there was no sign of any intruders.
Christopher Lowe, prosecuting, said: "It was visited by police officers following the report of an apparent burglary in progress.
"There was no burglary but after entering the property the officers conducted a search of the building.
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"Ninety-two cannabis plants were found in a downstairs room.
"The defendant was on holiday at the time but handed himself in at his local police station on his return.
"The potential value of the crop was £7,800 or so.
"It is clear there was a commercial element to this operation. That being said, the set-up was rather amateurish and the projected yield is very much at the lower end of what could be expected from a crop of that size."
Bridger, 29, formerly of Burgh le Marsh but now living in Fishponds Lane, Holbrook, Ipswich, admitted an offence of producing cannabis in August last year.
He was given a 51-week jail sentence suspended for two years with 300 hours of unpaid work and ordered to pay £300 towards prosecution costs.
David Eager, defending, said Bridger, a married man with three children, had used cannabis for many years.
Mr Eager said: "This prosecution has been the kick up the backside he needed to sort himself out.
"Since this he has moved to Ipswich away from the peer group he was associating with in Skegness.
"He has moved on with his life and is seeking to better himself."
Judge Michael Heath told Bridger: "You have escaped immediate custody by the skin of your teeth."