It has been revealed that police have been using helicoper overflights of Clydesdale, using heat-detecting equipment to expose illegal drug ‘farms’ hidden in home attics.
The information about the force’s `eye-in-the-sky’ came out during the case of a Kirkmuirhill cannabis grower at Lanark Sheriff Court on Thursday.
Facing justuce that day was 27-year-old John Brownlee of the village’s 8 Vere Terrace, appearing for sentence having pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to having, at his home on October 17 last year, engaged in the production if cannabis there; he also admitted a separate charge of possession of the drug at his home.
Depute fiscal Ziad Ul-Hassan initially told the court that police “with a search warrant” had raided Brownlee’s home at 10.50am and during an early part of the search had discoveed a glass jar containing four grammes of cannabis plus “other drug paraphernalia”.
Officers then went to an upstairs area where they found ten cannabis plants plus packets of plant-growing formula.
Under questioning, Brownlee claimed he had been growing the drug only for his own personal use.
The depute fiscal then added that the cannabis-growing operation in Brownlee’s home had been revealed by a polce helicopter flying over the village, using special equipment to detect the unusual levels of heat generation needed to grow such plants.
A solictor acting for Brownlee said that his `farming’ of cannabis was “a project at a very early stage” when it was uncovered and the plants found would have, in any case, produced a very small quantity of the drug.
He went on to say that Brownlee maintained that the drug was for his own “medicinal” use and he had no previous court convictions.
On reading background social work reports on Brownlee, Sheruff Nikola Stewrat noted that he suffered problems with his mental health.
Useing cannabis, she said, was no answer to his problems; “In taking cannabis, he is not helping himself.”
She said that Brownlee would have to ivercome his problems by some other means.
She noted from the reports that agoraphobia was one of his problems and if he didn’tvaddress this “he faces a life stuck in his own home.”
She said that, therefore, imposing a home curfew order as part of his sentence might seem at odds with addressing this problem but the only alternative would be sending him to prison, a move she was “stopping short of, given this is a first offence.”
The sheruff duly imposed a 18 month Community Payback Order on Brownlee, part of whih would be a 7pm to 7am hone curfew Restriction of Liberty Order. She commented: “People who produce cannabis usually go to jail for this hobby of theirs.”