4:55pm Monday 17th March 2014
A FARMER accused of plotting to grow cannabis was cleared after two successive juries failed to agree on verdicts
Last April a jury at Gloucester Crown Court was discharged without returning a verdict in the case of Philip Johns, 59, of Wilcae Terrace, Raglan and the same thing happened with a second jury.
Judge Jamie Tabor QC discharged them and prosecutor Ian Dixey then announced he would not be seeking another retrial. He offered no further evidence and the judge formally found Mr Johns not guilty.
Mr Johns, who owns Glannau Farm at Lydart, near Monmouth, had been accused of growing 143 cannabis plants there as part of a bigger conspiracy which also involved sites in Cinderford, Gloucestershire, and Tenbury Wells, Worcestershire.
The jury heard that when police raided Glannau Farm they found the 143 cannabis plants and 150 seedlings growing in three lorry containers in the grounds.
Mr Johns denied conspiring with two other men, Andrew O’Donnell and Robert Ockleton, to produce cannabis between April 1, 2011, and July 14, 2012. He also denied abstracting electricity to power the light and heat in the containers.
Prosecutor Ian Dixey said the trail that led to Mr Johns’ farm started in March 2010 when police keeping surveillance on O’Donnell and Ockleton saw them meet and go to the Quedgeley East Business Park near Gloucester.
There they bought £3,500 worth of hydroponic growing equipment from a business called Cultim8 and they drove it to an area near Chippenham.
They then transferred some of the equipment to another vehicle which police followed to Mr Johns’ farm near Trelleck, said Mr Dixey.
O’Donnell, the alleged mastermind of the plot, had three mobile phones – each of which had Mr Johns’ number on it, said Mr Dixey.
Although he visited the farm almost every day to feed his 50 sheep, 30 horses and seven cattle, he did not see what was going on in containers full of cannabis plants and he did not realise that the electricity supply had been by-passed, he said.
Neither did he notice large ventilation pipes which had been fitted to the containers, he said.
Ockleton and O’Donnell will be sentenced at a later date.
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