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Sentence slashed for gardener with ‘medical’ cannabis crop

A MARKET gardener who cultivated a bumper crop of cannabis to provide pain relief for those in need had his sentence halved as an “act of mercy” by Appeal Court judges yesterday.

Ian Warren Garthwaite, 41, was jailed for three years at Derby Crown Court in September after he admitted cultivating cannabis plants, possessing cannabis with intent to supply and possessing cannabis.

His wife, Lynne, who helped Garthwaite run their thriving market gardening business in Matlock Road, Alfreton, received a 12-month suspended sentence after she admitted possessing cannabis.

She was in London’s Appeal Court as Garthwaite’s lawyers urged three judges to cut his “manifestly excessive” sentence.

The court heard that Garthwaite was the lynchpin of a legitimate gardening business, which his wife was now struggling to maintain in his absence behind bars.

In what Judge David Radford termed an “act of mercy”, the court halved his sentence – which will guarantee his release before the busy harvest season.

The judge, sitting in London with Lord Justice Elias and Mr Justice Jack, said Garthwaite grew 121 cannabis plants on his smallholding between November 2008 and February 2009, which had a potential yield of six kilos of prime cannabis worth around £30,000 on the street.

Garthwaite was raising the plants to provide relief for those in acute pain, the court heard, although the scale of the crop persuaded him that he might supply others as well.

Although the narcotics were produced in “factory-like” conditions – involving highly sophisticated growing techniques – there was no question of Garthwaite having criminal links

He was a man of previous impeccable character, with a reputation for altruism and “good works” in the community, said the judge.

In the exceptional circumstances, a substantial sentence cut was appropriate.

Under standard sentencing rules Garthwaite will have to serve only half of his 18-month sentence before qualifying for automatic release.