A CANNABIS factory worth as much as £400,000 a year was discovered after a restaurant argument caused a raging husband to burn all his wife’s clothes in their back garden.
Former sound engineer Mark Kelly was sentenced to 50 months in prison yesterday after he admitted producing cannabis on an almost “industrial’’ scale and causing around £600 of criminal damage on December 13 last year.
Giles Curtis-Raleigh, prosecuting, said police were called to the couple’s home in Green Road, Kidlington, following a row in an Oxford restaurant and found the father-of-two burning his wife Sarah Kelly’s clothes in an oil drum, next to a workshed he had converted into a cannabis factory.
The barrister said four days later the 56-year-old also bombarded his wife with abusive text messages, pushed pictures of her dead father through her letter box and twice crashed into a police car parked outside their home.
Mr Curtis-Raleigh said Kelly’s “appalling’’ driving forced two police officers to jump out of the way during the incident on December 17, which also led to him pleading guilty to harassment and dangerous driving.
He told Judge Mary Jane Mowat, sitting in Oxford Crown Court, that the defendant had been running a sophisticated growing operation, with an annual yield of between 11.4 and 32.2kg of Class B drug cannabis.
He added that Kelly has previous convictions for violence and dishonesty and he was also jailed for three years in 1977 for importing and supplying Class A drugs.
Graham Bennett, defending, said most of his client’s recent crimes were prompted by his marriage of more than 20 years breaking down.
He said Kelly was a long-term cannabis user and his decision to start selling drugs was “a result of losing his employment as a sound engineer and debts within the family’’.
Mr Bennett said: “He accepts that this was a criminal enterprise and that he was going to sell cannabis to friends and associates who used cannabis with him over the years.’’ Judge Mowat said that according to his probation report, Kelly had been taking drugs for years while working with young people in the Oxford music scene.
She added that he did not appear to think there were any social problems caused by supplying drugs and it was down to each individual to take responsibility for their own use.
Judge Mowat told Kelly: “This was a substantial production facility, if not an industrial one.
“You are in your mid 50s and after taking drugs for years you have had a marital and job crisis which has proved wrong, in the most graphic way, your tolerant attitude to intoxicating substances.’’ Kelly will now be subject to a restraining order banning contact with his wife and will be disqualified from driving for 12 months, with an extended retest required before he can drive again.