Cannabis grower caught out by blaze

A HAPLESS cannabis cultivator whose illegal growing operation was uncovered when his home caught fire, today told how his efforts to ease his back pain got him into trouble.

A HAPLESS cannabis cultivator whose illegal growing operation was uncovered when his home caught fire, today told how his efforts to ease his back pain got him into trouble.

Victor King, a Sciatica suffering former painter and decorator, admitted producing cannabis when he appeared at South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court and is now banned from going to his favourite pub as a punishment.

The 62-year-old's far from sophisticated cannabis factory was discovered when firefighters called police to his house of 24 years when a fire broke out on March 12.

Inside they found King's beloved “best friend” of eight years - Jack Russell dog Brian - dead in the kitchen after he inhaled toxic fumes from the fire.

Nearby they found 40 cannabis plants growing in a room transformed with hydroponics equipment and lighting.

King, who has used cannabis for ten years, today told how he came up with the idea of using the Class C drug to ease his back and hip pain brought on by the muscular disorder when he visited a car boot sale and saw someone selling hydroponics equipment.

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He told The Evening Star: “It had been helping. I'd use it for tonics. I'd drink it in tea. It kept me relaxed.

“Without it I get tense, sometimes I get down and I can't get up.”

However when police made the discovery the growing operation was already in tatters, the court heard. Only the stumps of the plants remained and King had given up on growing much of a crop.

During Wednesday's hearing, District Judge David Cooper said: “Cultivation had been a failure. You only harvested a small amount which you made into a broth. Very unusual.”

King, who moves about with the aid of a walking stick, later said: “It was a complete failure because I didn't know what I was doing. The plants were no good at all, absolutely useless. I threw it all away.”

He had been out shopping on March 12 when he came home to find police and firefighters at his home and he immediately knew the game was up.

King said: “There was an electric fire on but I only nipped out for an hour or so.”

Most upsetting for him though was the death of Brian, his closest companion, who he described as a “beauty”.

Judge Cooper handed him a 12-week suspended sentence and ordered the hydroponics equipment and £200 cash found inside the house to be seized. He added to the punishment by banning King from visiting the Red Lion pub near his home in Bramford Road, where he was a regular, for the next six months.

“You have got to stop it,” the judge said. “From the sound of things you have been at this - using cannabis - for years. You've got to stop, it's against the law.”

What do you think about Victor King's case? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail

FAILED cannabis grower Victor King today called for marijuana to be legalised for medicinal use.

After being sentenced over his makeshift marijuana factory, the back pain sufferer said: “It's a wonder drug. It's a natural drug and it's been persecuted wrongly I think.

“I think they should make it legal. I learned there are 400 chemicals in one plant.

“A friend of mine goes to a clinic in London to use it. He's going to the European Court to get them to allow its use.”

Rather than the traditional method of smoking it, King added it to his tea.

He said: “It did help me. It didn't get me stoned out of my mind, it just made me more comfortable.”

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