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Cannabis grower bought his equipment at force auction

Grant Woodward, Leeds Today, 12th May 2005

A DRUG user created his own cannabis factory - using gear bought from the police.

Mark Batty set up a cannabis-growing operation at his home with equipment that had been snapped up at a public auction held by the West Yorkshire force.

The 32-year-old’s home in Westminster Croft, Rodley, Leeds, was raided in February this year by officers who found 85 cannabis plants along with hydroponic equipment that was being used to grow the drug in his loft and a downstairs front room.

Batty’s solicitor, Anthony Sugare, told Leeds Magistrates Court yesterday that the episode was an embarrassment for the force.

He said: “In this day and age, when the police take a good deal of time and trouble to publicise their success in capturing drug dealers and those who use drugs, it may well be that this is an example of something where it can well be said that they have egg on their face.

“The equipment came as a result of an auction sale conducted by the police… even to the point that it still has on it the labels ‘West Yorkshire Police Force’.”

Mr Sugare added: “That doesn’t in any way remove the responsibility from the defendant for producing this cannabis but it does seem a rather strange set of circumstances as to how the defendant was able to come by this equipment.

“If the police hadn’t put this up for auction, the defendant wouldn’t have had the means to produce the cannabis that he did.”

The court heard that Batty, now living in Belle Isle, Leeds, was arrested following the raid and taken to Pudsey police station for questioning.

He admitted growing the cannabis but maintained it was for his own personal use as the drug helped alleviate the pain caused him by a medical complaint.

Mr Sugare said his client suffered from stomach problems which might or might not be caused by Crohn’s disease.

He said Batty had a hospital appointment booked for this Friday to try to get to the root of the problem.

Mr Sugare told the court: “He doesn’t hide from the fact that he is a regular cannabis taker because he feels it alleviates his medical condition.”

Batty, who is unemployed and receives incapacity benefit, was originally charged with producing cannabis and production with intent to supply. The supply charge was later dropped.

The court heard he had been convicted of drug-related offending in the past.

Batty was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment and ordered to pay £40 prosecution costs. An order was made for the forfeiture and destruction of the drug-making equipment found at his house.

A spokeswoman for West Yorkshire Police said today: “Items such as lights are commonly available household items. Anyone who chooses to use them for illegal purposes will suffer the consequences, as this case demonstrates.”

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