Published Friday, 14 June 2013
Crabbe's offense was deemed out of character by the Crown Court judge. (© UTV)
Belfast Crown Court heard on Friday while those operating the drug den had fled the country, a fingerprint from Adrian Crabbe of Staffa Drive, Ballymena was found on the tenancy agreement for the Ballyclare house raided by police on 28 August 2011.
Prosecutor Robin Steer said that police had been tipped off by neighbours, who later identified 32-year-old Crabbe as one of those seen around the house.
An estate agent, who rented out the Templepatrick Road house, also identified Crabbe as the man who signed the lease.
Mr Steer said that police uncovered the cannabis factory in a two-storey outhouse containing plants with a street value of between £126,000 to £360,000.
The lawyer added while Crabbe had played an operational role, it was really "low level" compared to others.
Defence lawyer Neil Moore said essentially Crabbe could be described as a hard working productive young man who cared for his parents and that there was no real rational for his involvement, which he regretted.
The irony of the situation was that any monies involved have already been seized by the authorities.
Mr Moore added that Crabbe's involvement, which stemmed from his connection with a Chinese restaurant in Larne, was totally out of character and that up until his arrest police had no intelligence on him.
Mr Moore said that Crabbe, who admitted involvement in the production of cannabis, had an unremarkable, but good background with no previous drug convictions.
Freeing Crabbe, Judge Gordon Kerr QC said that while normally drug cultivating operations such as this must be stopped, and stopped by the imposition of immediate custodial sentences, the court could in certain circumstances, suspended those terms.
Judge Kerr said he had been told that Crabbe's involvement was out of character, had no previous convictions for drugs and there was little likelihood of his re-offending.
The judge added Crabbe did not pose a risk to the community and therefore it was appropriate to suspended his sentence.
© UTV News