A businessman found to be operating a cannabis farm from his home in the Clydesdale countryside was spared a jail sentence at Lanark Sheriff Court last Thursday.
Instead, haulage plant hire boss Paul Casagranda, 49, of Meadowbrook, Auchengray, was fined a total of £2,500 despite an earlier indication he could end up behind bars for having cannabis with an estimated street value of £4,200 on his property.
The haul was uncovered during a raid on his home as part of an HM Customs investigation last November which, by chance, discovered five large bags of herbal cannabis in his garage.
Evidence of it having been produced on his property was also found.
Last month, Casagranda admitted at Lanark Sheriff Court charges of producing a controlled drug and having possession of that drug, herbal cannabis, with intent to supply it to others.
The court heard that two tents and other paraphernalia of cannabis cultivation had been found in his garage.
Although there were no actual full cannabis plants found, there were leaves on the garage floor.
The main haul of five bags of cannabis was then found, and in total drugs worth £2,200, but with a potential street price of £4,200, were discovered on Casagranda’s property.
When, last month, he admitted the charges against him, his solicitor, Archie Hill told the court that his client had got the cultivation equipment from a friend who had set it up for him and he had grown the cannabis for himself and friends.
However, sheriff Nikola Stewart stated that that was no defence for the cultivation of an illegal drug, only a mitigating factor.
She commented that cases of home drug cultivation were coming before her too often and with increasing frequency.
She estimated that the Lanark court was now hearing such cases at a rate of about once a fortnight.
She issued a public warning that there would no undue leniency when such cases came before the court.
Calling for background reports on Casagranda and deferring sentence in the meantime, she warned that drug cultivation for any purpose, social or commercial, could warrant a custodial sentence.
However, Casagranda, instead of being sent to custody, was fined a total of £2,500 on Thursday when he appeared back in the dock for sentence.