Businessman wins cut in jail sentence
A businessman who was jailed after hundreds of cannabis plants were found stashed in a property he owned has had his sentence cut by top judges.
Andrew Lawrence Scott Thompson was found guilty of cultivating and possessing the class B drug with intent to supply after a haul of 350 plants – worth about £100,000 – was discovered in a house he owned.
The 48-year-old, of Aylestone Road, Leicester, was jailed for six years at Leicester Crown Court in September.
However, his sentence was cut to five years by judges sitting at London's Criminal Appeal Court earlier this week.
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They said the original term made no allowance for the fact Thompson's life was "on hold" for nearly three years between the discovery of the drugs and his conviction. The court heard officers raided a house in Lansdowne Road, off Aylestone Road, which was owned by Thompson and his wife, in March 2009.
They discovered 350 plants at various stages of maturity – from saplings to fully-mature plants about 5ft high – and an array of heating and lighting equipment.
Thompson denied the charges levelled against him, claiming he had rented the property out and was unaware of the drugs, but he was found guilty by a jury.
His wife was charged with the same offences, but was cleared of any wrongdoing – along with two other men who had been charged with cannabis cultivation.
The court heard that, while the couple waited to learn their fate, they suffered financially and Thompson had been diagnosed with anxiety and depression.
Mr Justice Keith said the pair were in "significant" debt.
Thompson's lawyers argued his jail term was over the top, saying the crown court judge did not take enough account of his ill-health, coupled with the lengthy delay before his conviction.
Allowing the appeal, Mr Justice Keith said the original sentence was "excessive", as the lapse in time was "particularly significant".
Sitting with Lord Justice Laws and Judge Charles Wide, he said: "For three years, the lives of the appellant and his wife would have been on hold.
"That is not something that should be underestimated."