Raymond Forbes had been jailed for two years but as “an act of mercy” he was freed on appeal
A former carpenter who was jailed for growing cannabis plants has been freed after judges heard he was smoking the drug to relieve rheumatic pain.
Police searched an address in Coventry belonging to Forbes’ late father on June 20 last year, Mr Justice King told London’s Appeal Court.
They found 37 cannabis plants which, with an estimated yield of 1kg, would be worth up to £31,000.
The court heard that Forbes, who had some “ancient” previous convictions of no relevance and had never been to jail before, admitted cannabis production.
He told a probation officer that he had a long-term problem with rheumatoid arthritis following a career as a carpenter.
He started smoking cannabis for pain relief and decided to reduce the cost of purchasing the drugs by growing the plants.
His lawyers argued that his jail term was far too harsh.
They pointed out he had been out of trouble for 26 years and that the intended use of the cannabis was to alleviate pain.
Forbes is a father of “several children” and plays an important role with a 20-year-old son who has ADHD, the court heard.
Mr Justice King said there were a ‘significant quantity of plants with some considerable value’.
It was ‘questionable whether in truth the entirety was for Forbes self-benefit’, added the judge, who was sitting with Mrs Justice McGowan.
“However we have ultimately been persuaded that the sentence reached by the judge was too high.”
This was in particular because of his personal circumstances, including caring for his son with ADHD, said Mr Justice King.
Noting that Forbes ‘has already spent some months in custody’, he said the ‘appropriate sentence’ was two years.
But in many ways as “an act of mercy”, the judge quashed Forbes’ jail term and replaced it with a suspended sentence and 120 hours unpaid work.