Cannabis producer ordered to pay back £25,000 after growing it 'for medicinal purposes'
POLICE will claw back more than £25,000 from a man who grew cannabis.
Howard Ratcliffe, aged 55, of Trentham Avenue, Farnworth, claimed he started growing cannabis for medicinal reasons, but then started to profit from the crime.
His cannabis farm was found when police were called to his home after a burglary was reported on September 25, 2012.
Police found a light on in the house but nobody inside. They went inside and found 41 plants and 36 cuttings of the class B drug.
The cannabis would have had a street value of between £4,000 and £5,000 per crop.
Ratcliffe was arrested, along with pensioner Pauline Brocklehurst, who also lives at the house.
He admitted producing cannabis and was given a 12-month suspended jail sentence.
Brocklehurst admitted a charge of allowing a premises to be used for production of cannabis. She was given a community order.
Police sought to claw back criminal gains from Ratcliffe under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
He was found to have benefited from £25,862 — a combination of the cost of the drugs and more than £2,500 that went into his bank account.
At Bolton Crown Court, Ratcliffe was ordered by Judge Timothy Clayson to pay the full sum of £25,862 — the total amount made through his activities.
A Proceeds of Crime hearing against Brocklehurst was dropped by investigators.
Tony Wood, financial investigator for the police, said: “It is an unfortunate situation. Ratcliffe has grown cannabis to alleviate his own health problems and he appears to have got greedy.
“People need to know that if they are involved in drugs, police will catch up with you — for Ratcliffe it has and he has now lost his life savings. This should be a warning to others.”