Published Tuesday, 15 April 2014
Police searched the accused's home in June 2013. (© Getty)
Colin Bell, 54 and from Sealstown Road in Newtownabbey, was handed a 15 month sentence after appearing in the dock of Belfast Crown Court.
He admitted to a charge of possession of cannabis with intent to supply and to cultivating the Class B drug and was ordered to serve three months of the sentence in custody with the remaining 12 months spent on supervised licence when he is released from prison.
Crown prosecutor David McAughey told the court police searched Bell's home on 5 June last year.
Revealing that "the accused was not present but his partner was there," the prosecutor said that during the search, officers found 16 cannabis plants in a grow tent, along with around 100 buds/heads in a bag which had been previously cultivated in the growing tent.
The court heard that when Bell's partner was asked about the drugs, she said he grew the drugs to help him deal with pain and she couldn't stop him growing the plants.
Bell - who has 72 previous convictions including drugs offences - then arrived on the scene and told police a "similar tale."
Mr McAughey said it was accepted that Bell used the cannabis for pain relief and that he gave some to family members.
A defence lawyer told Judge David McFarland that Bell was "very frank" with the police and that he was "not proud of finding himself before the courts."
The lawyer said that Bell told police he knew he was breaking the law but he was not a drug dealer, as he was using cannabis for pain relief, adding: "He was growing this because he didn't want to pay people money who are producing it as a criminal enterprise."
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