South Scotland

Balmaclellan drystane dyker Stephen Clarke jailed over cannabis crop

Cannabis plant Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Police found 59 plants and a further batch of the drug which had already been harvested

A drystane dyker who produced a cannabis crop with a street value of £36,000 for supply to England has been jailed for four-and-a-half years.

Stephen Clarke, 58, grew the drug at a steading at Balmaclellan near Castle Douglas before it was raided by police.

They found 59 plants and a further batch which had already been harvested.

A judge told Clarke: "You are clearly no stranger to the drug trade and previous sentences have failed to deter you from this type of offence."

He had previously been jailed in England for drugs offences, including a seven-year sentence, before moving to Scotland in 2001.

At the High Court in Edinburgh, Lord Boyd of Duncansby said he was prepared to accept that Clarke had become involved in the latest offence after a build up of debt.

The judge said he had been supportive of family members following the murder of a nephew in London and that he took into account that he had not offended otherwise since his move to Scotland, apart from road traffic matters.

Lord Boyd told Clarke that he would have jailed him for five years for the latest offence, but for his guilty pleas.

Clarke, formerly of Balmaclellan, had earlier admitted producing cannabis over a period of almost 10 months up to 23 January last year and being concerned in the supply of the Class B drug.

He originally admitted the offences at Dumfries Sheriff Court but was sent to the High Court by Sheriff George Jamieson because of its greater powers of sentence.

Run up a debt

The court heard that after he was detained Clarke admitted growing the cannabis.

He said he had run up a debt of £1,000 and to get rid of that had agreed to the cultivation for people in England for its onward supply.

Defence solicitor advocate John Keenan said: "He had agreed to allow this operation to be conducted on his property."

Mr Keenan argued that, although a significant number of cannabis plants were involved in Clarke's cultivation, it was at the lower end of the scale in such operations.

"There is no suggestion any substantial sums of money were found in the course of the police search of the property," he said.

He added: "There was no suggestion of any evidence that the accused was living any sort of lavish lifestyle from his involvement in this matter.

"Essentially he had allowed his premises to be used for this as a means of clearing a debt he owed."

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites