Woman started growing cannabis “to treat brother’s sick dog”

A woman wanted to grow cannabis to give her brother’s sick dog the drug, a court heard.

The aspiring cultivator was put in touch with a man who had the necessary know-how to help, and together they started a small annex in their guest room.

After two unsuccessful harvests, the plan worked well on the third attempt, but the inexperienced gardener apparently got cold feet and discarded the harvest – sparking a series of threats from her co-worker. It was these threats that caused the system to break down.

Sophie Hill, who is prosecuting before the Swansea Crown Court, said last April that Dyfed-Powys police received a call from a woman named Bethan Jane Robinson setting out a series of threats made by a man named Christopher Rowlands spoke out against them.

She said 40-year-old Robinson told officials she was involved in the manufacture of cannabis at her home – a company she started because her brother’s dog was not doing well and she was doing it with THC from the drug wanted to treat.

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The court heard that Robinson had been brought into contact with Rowlands, 33, who provided the equipment and knowledge to set up a small plantation in her home in Ceredigion. The first crop produced two plants and the second 10 plants – all died – but the third produced 13 healthy plants.

But Miss Hill said it appeared that due to concerns from Covid that strangers might come and go to her Tregaron address, Robinson made the decision to no longer be involved in growing cannabis and dumped the plants.

The court heard that when Robinson told Rowlands what she had done he started sending her a series of threats on Facebook and over the phone demanding £ 1,000 or he would torch her car and tell her she was playing ” with fire “.

Miss Hill said when the couple was subsequently arrested and their phones examined, officials found an exchange of text between them discussing the cultivation and supply of cannabis, including one that said it was considered a “virus” ” quids in “could be – probably as a reference to coronavirus -” sent weeds through the roof at the price of weeds.

In his ensuing interview, Rowlands told officials that he had no intention of frightening Robinson, just wanted his share of third-crop cannabis and his share of the money he owed.

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Robinson of Tregaron and Rowlands of Spring Gardens in Trefechan, Aberystwyth, had both pleaded guilty to cannabis production when they appeared separately at the dock for conviction. Rowlands had also previously pleaded guilty to extortion.

The court heard that Roberts has no previous convictions, while Rowlands has five previous convictions for 14 offenses, including one for delivering a Class A drug when he was a teenager.

Sam Jones, for Rowlands, said the defendant had “significant cannabis addiction” at the time of the offense and his mental health was deteriorating by the time he got into curfew.

He said his client believed the co-defendant was not being honest about the disposal of the third successful harvest, and that “what was perceived to be wrong” led him to make the threats, which were atypical.

The attorney added that Rowlands’ addiction was now “under control” and that he had a full-time, well-paying job putting safety nets on construction sites across the UK.

Dyfed Thomas, for Robinson, said his client was very open to police about her involvement in cannabis production and the mother of two was remorseful for what she did.

Judge Geraint Walters said the dog treatment explanation for starting cannabis production was “one of the most bizarre reasons I have ever heard”.

The judge gave the defendants a third discount on their confessions of guilt and sentenced Robinson to six months in prison, with two years’ suspension. He ordered her to take a rehabilitation course and sentenced Rowlands to a total of 14 months in prison, suspended for two years with 180 hours of unpaid labor.

Nothing was told to the court about the dog’s health.

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