Council worker helped run cannabis factory

Cannabis plants. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Cannabis plants. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2019

A Norfolk County Council worker who became involved in setting up a cannabis factory was described by a judge as a “Walter Mitty” character.

David Chadwick-Shaw, 31, was arrested after his fingerprints were found at the scene of a cannabis factory, in Norwich Road, Watton.

The discovery was made on October 17, last year, when a police raid found 161 cannabis plants growing in a commercial building after officers smelt cannabis coming from the premises.

Norwich Crown Court heard the factory was fitted out with sophisticated equipment including lighting and air filters.

Chadwick-Shaw’s fingerprints were found on various items in the factory and Lori Tucker prosecuting, said that he had taken out the lease on the building and the electricity in his name.

Chadwick-Shaw, of Briar Road, Harleston, pleaded guilty to cultivating cannabis but claimed he was forced into it because of a drugs debt and had been threatened to come up with £4000 cash.

However after hearing evidence from Chadwick-Shaw, Judge Andrew Shaw dismissed the claim and described Chadwick-Shaw as a bit of “Walter Mitty” character.

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“It is a fanciful account. There is no evidence at all to support his contention that he was forced into this.”

Judge Shaw said there was no evidence about him getting threats from drug dealers, including a man from London, but accepted that he had not set up the operation on his own.

He said that he had concerns for his mental health.

Judge Shaw imposed a two-year jail sentence suspended for two years and ordered him to 200 hours unpaid work.

He also required him to do a 12-month drug treatment order.

Judge Shaw adjourned a confiscation hearing to claw back some cash from Chadwick-Shaw.

Andrew Oliver, for Chadwick-Shaw, who was tearful in the dock, said that he was not responsible for the whole operation.

“It was run by a gang not by a man who works for the council.”

He said that Chadwick-Shaw worked in the highways department and had been through a difficult time.

He said the fact he took the lease and electricity in his own name showed a naïvety.

He said that he was vulnerable.

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