A debt-riddled dad has been jailed after he dug a 10ft-deep CAVE under his house – to grow thousands of pounds worth of cannabis plants.
Matthew Walters, 31, owed £25,000 to ‘legitimate lenders’ as well as £4,100 to his drug dealer, who supplied him with cannabis and amphetamines.
In a desperate attempt to dig himself out of debt, Walters grew 73 cannabis plants worth up to £9,280 underneath his rented home.
A court heard Walters began smoking half-an-ounce of cannabis a day after his partner left him for his best friend.
The plants were discovered by police on February 1 last year and he was arrested. He also confessed to having amphetamine in the freezer.
Police recovered two bars of cannabis resin, worth £550, and two packages of amphetamine weighing 72.3 grams. They also seized scales and £1,600 cash.
He was bailed but on September 13, police searched his house in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffs, which he moved back to after his arrest.
At that address, police found, Walters had dug a cave and grown a further 11 cannabis plants with a street value of over £4,000.
On Thursday he was jailed for three years and seven months at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court after pleading guilty to two charges of producing cannabis, possession of cannabis with intent to supply and possession of amphetamine with intent to supply.
Despite benefiting from his criminality by £31,171.93, he was ordered to pay back just the available amount of £1,600.
Jailing Walters, Judge David Fletcher said: “A lot of people get into debt.
“But people do not go digging holes in the floor of their homes to grow cannabis plants to keep them away from the attention of the authorities.”
His pleas were entered on a basis he grew cannabis because of his debts and the pressure he was under.
The court heard how Walters planned to sell the cannabis to pay off his debts as well as smoke some.
The amphetamine was left by a friend and he would have given it back for a small profit.
Neil Ahuja, prosecuting, said: “Police could smell cannabis straight away.
“Twenty plants were recovered from the loft. A further search revealed a board had been placed under the stairs, covering up a large hole.
“He had dug under his property and excavated a cellar-type area in which a further 11 plants were being grown.”
When arrested, Walters, told police he planned to pay off debts he owed to a drug dealer.
Hamish Noble, defending, said: “His drug use got out of hand after his partner left him for his best friend.”