1:46pm Wednesday 12th December 2012
By Neil Hunter
A LIFE-LONG cannabis grower caught with a £10,000 crop in his home walked free after a judge heard that the case had taken three years to reach court.
Thomas Robinson - described as "a disciple" to the drug - tried as a youngster to grow plants in the woods and later used an allotment for his illegal habit.
In November 2009, police found one kilo of bush drying out on a hanging device in Robinson's home in Skelton Street, Hartlepool, as well as 17 plants.
He was told by a judge at Teesside Crown Court today (Wednesday, December 12) that he would have been jailed had it not been for the delay in the case reaching a conclusion.
Judge Simon Bourne-Arton, QC, also revealed that he was seeking an explanation from Cleveland Police, who he blamed "exclusively" for the hold-up.
Unemployed lobster fisherman Robinson, 56, was given a four-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, after he admitted producing Class B drugs.
He had also been charged - along with his daughter Stacey and partner Catherine Kenny - of dealing the drugs, but they were all acquitted after a trial.
The women also pleaded guilty to producing cannabis and were given community orders with unpaid work - Robinson 120 hours and Kenny 60 hours.
The court heard that Robinson, 32, a council gardener, had plants in her home in the same street and bought plants and growing equipment for both ventures.
Kenny, 51, did not smoke the drug and was not involved in its cultivation, but had been responsible for placing telephone orders for the gear, the court heard.
Her lawyer, Martin Scarborough, said: "Her involvement was subsidiary. She has no previous convictions or cautions and loses her good name through this."
Paul Abrahams, who represented both Robinsons, told the court that the father had been involved in "experimental growing" in the woods and allotment.
During the trial, Mr Abrahams referred to him as a cannabis disciple, and Judge Bourne-Arton said he had "very fixed ideas" about growing and taking it.
The judge said: "This was a simple investigation and for reasons explained in part by the officer in the case there was a delay of three years.
"That delay worked to your advantage, particularly you, Thomas Robinson. Had it not been for the delay, I tell you now I would have ordered you to start the sentence today."
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