Granny who claimed she was growing strawberries, jailed for growing skunk cannabis
A grandmother was jailed for two years today for growing large amounts of "skunk" cannabis at her house using equipment she claimed was for cultivating strawberries indoors.
Lynda Seager, 63, was caught when officers arrived at the six-bedroom house, which was divided into three flats, the day after her ex-husband Glenn was raided at his home in Sussex.
They found 197 cannabis plants and hydroponic indoor growing equipment. Police believe she grew skunk with a street value of £345,000 over four years.
Seager, who arrived at Exeter Crown Court today walking on two sticks, initially admitted growing drugs for sale but then claimed police forced a confession out of her.
The former alternative therapist later admitted growing the drug for personal use but denied supplying the drugs found at the building in Torquay, Devon.
But at her trial in September she was found guilty of supplying cannabis and possession with intent to supply.
Mrs Seager's daughter and son - who acts as her carer - wept in the public gallery as the sentence was passed.
Judge Erik Salomonsen said police intelligence suggested Seager was assisting her ex-husband, who is serving a three-year sentence himself for possession with intent to supply drugs, at the house in Thurlow Road, Torquay.
Despite evidence she had once grown strawberries and other fruits at the house, she had been in the process of dismantling hydroponics when police raided the building, divided into three flats, in December 2007.
An action, he said, which suggested she knew police were on their way and was trying to conceal evidence of drug growing.
"It seems to me clear that a reasonable finding would be that your husband was operating from his Sussex base and for a number of years you grew cannabis in your house and supplied it to him in Sussex for onward supply," he said.
"You indicated your guilt on at least one occasion but later denied your guilt. When police raided your house you were in the process of dismantling the hydroponics. You were seeking, albeit unsuccessfully, to hide what you were doing."
He rejected the prosecution claim that Seager made street-value level profit from the operation, which saw her reap three harvests of 12.2kg of the drug per year. Instead he accepted the defence figures, suggesting she made £100,000 over the four years she grew the drug.
Prosecutor James Taghdissian told the court: "Vast quantities of cannabis were produced from 2004 onwards.
"This was a major growing and cultivating exercise and subsequent supply."
Police officers believe Seager was providing baby cannabis plants for her husband's operation in Sussex.
Investigating officer Dc Richard Fuller, of Devon and Cornwall Police, said: "There was no sign of strawberries or tomatoes when we raided the house.
"We are very pleased with this result. She was a very clever lady who tried to deceive the police about her involvement."
Nigel Wraith, defending Seager, said his client had been living on disability living allowance until sent to prison today.
She suffers, the court heard, from a variety of illnesses, including osteoarthritis in her neck, carpal tunnel syndrome and hypothyroidism, for the last of which she is receiving constant medication. She also suffered, he said, from periodic depression not helped by the four years between the raid on her home and her trial.
"There is evidence she was not making a great deal herself out of what was happening at the house," he said, suggesting she had only £100 per month after paying all her bills on the house.
"There was certainly no lavish lifestyle.
"She is not a bad person by any stretch of the imagination. Prison for her is perhaps going to be more difficult than for the average defendant appearing before the court."
She was sentenced to 18 months for possession of cannabis and two years for both possession with intent to supply and supply of cannabis, all to be served concurrently.