Tees

Go-karter Jonathan Paylor sentenced over drug farm

A go-karter who claimed he ran a cannabis farm because he was being threatened by a gang he owed money to has been given a suspended jail term.

Jonathan Paylor, of Billingham, who competes at national level, said he was threatened with being shot.

Appearing at Teesside Crown Court, the 34-year-old of York Avenue, admitted producing cannabis.

He was given a 10-month jail term, suspended for a year and ordered to do 180 hours of unpaid work.

The hearing heard that the gang claimed Paylor owed them £20,000 after he sold them a car which had broken down.

To pay the money back, Paylor claimed the gang ordered him to run a 36-plant, cannabis farm in Billingham or he would be shot, the hearing heard.

'Close to jail'

Prosecutor Conor Quinn said police seized the plants from a shed on 13 January.

He said Paylor grew the drugs and was going to pass them on to someone else to supply in order to clear his debt.

Peter Wishlade, defending, said that Paylor, a car salesman, did not use cannabis and feared he would be shot.

Judge Howard Crowson told Paylor he had come close to going to jail.

He said: "The logical progression of your admissions is that the entirety of the cannabis you grew would have been supplied and gone into the cannabis chain.

"You have come very close to serving a sentence today - but it is just possible to suspend your sentence."

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