Firefighters stumble on Sudbury cannabis factory

A Sudbury cannabis grower was found out after her home caught fire, a court heard.

Firefighters dealing with an outbreak at a house in Belle Vue Road on August 23 were carrying out checks when they found that two tents, with growing equipment, had been installed inside a room.

The discovery led to police being called and Justine Meekings being arrested, said prosecutor Michael Crimp.

On Wednesday, Ipswich Crown Court heard that one of the tents contained 31 cannabis plants while inside the other was the remains of a further 13. Also found was growing equipment including lights and fans.

When interviewed, Meekings, 42, told police that she had been cultivating the drug for her own use as she had a long-standing habit. She also said she had an alcohol problem but that it was currently under control.

Meekings pleaded guilty to an offence of production of a class B drug.

In mitigation, Ian James said: “She is truly ashamed of what she has done and is very unlikely to ever offend again.”

The court heard that Meekings had set up her cannabis growing operation after buying seeds from a stall on Sudbury market, and the equipment she needed from Argos, spending between £500 and £600.

Imposing a 16-week prison sentence suspended for 12 months, Judge John Devaux said he was satisfied there was no evidence that the cannabis had been produced to supply anyone else.

Meekings was ordered to remain under Probation Service supervision for the next 12 months, attend 14 sessions of an alcohol treatment programme and six sessions of an emotional wellbeing course.

Judge Devaux ruled that the cannabis and all the growing equipment seized from Meeking’s house should be destroyed.