Northern Ireland news

Man (46) jailed for growing cannabis 'Christmas tree' in his Downpatrick home

A 46-year-old man has been jailed for growing cannabis in his Downpatrick home

A MAN who boasted on Snapchat about growing a 'cannabis Christmas tree' in his attic has been jailed for 10 months.

Robert Crosby (46) was caught growing the drug in his Irish Street home in Downpatrick in January 2018.

A native of Manchester with 12 aliases, he absconded after being charged with drug offences.

A warrant was issued, and he was returned to Northern Ireland after being arrested in England on an unrelated matter in May.

Crosby was sentenced for the January 2018 offences at Downpatrick Crown Court yesterday.

During sentencing it emerged that Crosby has completed the first module of a law degree and intends to resume his studies when he is released from custody.

Crosby's home was searched by police on January 15, 2018. Officers discovered just under a kilo of cannabis.

The attic had been divided by insulation sheets into three separate areas, two of which had heat lamps suspended from the ceiling.

Cannabis stalks, plants, pots and other growing equipment were also present.

Just over 26 grams of cocaine were found on a TV stand.

Several bags of cannabis were also seized.

When arrested Crosby said: "I only have that stuff for myself. I don't deal to kids or anything. The only reason I have it in bags is so I can swap it for cocaine".

When his phone was examined, police found a Snapchat conversation where Crosby showed an enormous cannabis plant growing in his attic which he described as a 'cannabis Christmas tree'.

A video on the phone taken a few weeks later shows Crosby cutting the plant down. He can be heard in the footage complaining about the work involved and says 'I'm going to be here for hours, mate'.

During interview, he admitted both possessing and cultivating cannabis, and possessing cocaine.

Addressing Crosby's personal circumstances, Judge Geoffrey Miller described his childhood as "complex and difficult" which led to addiction and criminality.

Crosby moved from Manchester to Belfast in 2015 to break away from offending and drug taking, and was managing to avoid both until he moved to Downpatrick where he relapsed.

He later told a probation officer that, after his arrest in January 2018, he fled back to England following threats from paramilitaries.

Judge Miller imposed a 10-month jail term with a further 10 months on licence.

The judge said Crosby should take part in a drug rehabilitation programme while on licence.

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