The Magistrate's Blog (2005-2012)

This blog has migrated to www.magistratesblog.blogspot.co.uk This blog is anonymous, and Bystander's views are his and his alone. Where his views differ from the letter of the law, he will enforce the letter of the law because that is what he has sworn to do. If you think that you can identify a particular case from one of the posts you are wrong. Enough facts are changed to preserve the truth of the tale but to disguise its exact source.

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Location: Near London, United Kingdom

The blog is written by a retired JP, with over 30 years' experience on the Bench.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Don't Feed The Need For Weed!

Thanks to the imdispensible Crime Line for this update on sentencing cannabis farmers. A large proportion of the professional operations are run by Vietnamese gangs, and it is unusual to see the main man - all we see is the 'gardener', paid a few pounds and given somewhere to sleep in return for tending the crop. It's above my pay grade, and goes straight off to the wigs in the Crown Court.

R v Auton and others, Court of Appeal, 3 February 2011
In Xu [2007] EWCA Crim 3129; [2008] 2 Crim App R (S) 50 at 308 this court considered the general level of sentencing for large scale commercial production of cannabis. The present four cases require us to consider sentencing in cases of smaller scale, but well planned and resourced, cannabis cultivation operations. Often, but not always, they may be carried on in the defendant's home.
Held (para 14):
i) where the cultivation will genuinely involve no element of supply of any kind, the sentence after trial is likely to be in the range 9 to 18 months, depending on the size of the operation, and the personal history of the defendant;
ii) where the cultivation is for the defendant's own use and is not a frankly commercial operation for profit, but will involve supply to others, the sentence after trial is likely to be in the range 18 months to 3 years; where any individual case will come within this range will depend on, inter alia, the scale of cultivation, the investment made, the number of parties involved, the nature of the likely supply and, in the upper reaches of the range, the level of any profit element; a previous history of directly relevant similar offending may take the case above this range.
iii) where the cultivation is a frankly commercial one designed with a view to sale for profit, and whether or not the defendant may use a limited quantity of the drug himself, the sentence will usually be somewhat below the Xu range because of the smaller size of operation, but is likely to be in the general range after trial of 3 to 6 years.
The circumstances, character and any criminal history of the defendant will as always be relevant. Where cultivation is accompanied by unlawful abstraction of electricity, often on a substantial scale, that will ordinarily be an aggravating factor. Adjustment should be made for a plea of guilty in the usual way according to the stage at which it was tendered.