63-year-old pot-growing former publican awaits fate after second cannabis-related conviction in three years

David Clarke at a previous court hearing

David Clarke at a previous court hearing - Credit: Archant

A pot-growing former publican is facing a likely jail term after admitting being involved in the growing of cannabis for the second time in three years.

David Clarke, of Old Norwich Road, Ipswich, had previously run the Red Lion in Bramford Road and the Whitton Maypole in Old Norwich Road.

The 63-year-old was given a suspended prison sentence in November 2012 after being found guilty at Ipswich Crown Court of allowing cannabis to be grown in a room at the Red Lion on December 2, 2011.

During his latest court appearance before South East Suffolk Magistrates Court Clarke admitted producing the Class B drug in a mini cannabis factory set up in his garage.

Prosecutor Ian Devine told the court police went to Clarke’s home with a search warrant on December 11 last year.

When the officers explained the purpose of their visit related to drugs, the court heard Clarke told them: “That’s ok. It’s in the garage. There’s about 40-odd plants in there.”

Police were led to the garage at the rear of Clarke’s home where they found 38 plants together with equipment enabling the production and growth of cannabis.

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Mr Devine said had the plants reached full maturity police estimate their market value would have yielded between £10,000 and £30,000.

Mr Devine added: “This operation potentially was capable of producing significant quantities for commercial use. The Crown would be saying this was a significant role because of the financial advantage which would be obtained from this operation. It is certainly beyond personal consumption.”

However, Ian Persaud, representing Clarke, said: “There’s no evidence that anyone else was involved in this. Mr Clarke is just charged with possession of these plants.

“This was Mr Clarke messing around with cannabis growing and the plants were small to large. This was a step-by-step approach with him growing (the cannabis) without a very obvious end game.”

The court was told Clarke was previously convicted of allowing his premises to be used in the production of cannabis when he was at the Red Lion after letting a room to someone to bring in some money to the pub.

District Judge Karim Ezzat committed the case to Ipswich Crown Court for sentencing and adjourned the matter for a pre-sentence report.

Bailing Clarke he told him: “In all likelihood a custodial sentence awaits you.”