Drug counsellor turned her home into cannabis farm to pay debts to dealers

A FORMER drug counsellor who turned her home into a cannabis factory in an attempt to pay off a drug debt has been spared prison. 

Claire Thornton, 40, was arrested last month after police officers discovered more than 70 plants at her home in Huddersfield Road, Ravensthorpe. The debt-ridden former nurse had used two bedrooms at the house to grow the plants, which were around five or six weeks away from harvest and could have produced more than three kilograms of the class B drug, with a street value of up to £29,000.

Bradford Crown Court heard that heroin user Thornton said she had been forced into growing the plants by drug dealers to whom she owed money.

She described the dealers as “not nice people.” They had changed the locks at her home to allow them to enter as they wished and wore gloves so that no fingerprints would be found.

Thornton’s barrister Emma Gilsenan said her client had relapsed after spending 10 years clean from drugs.

She described Thornton’s predicament as “a bit of a fall from grace”.

Thornton is now taking steps to address her addiction with a methadone programme. She was given a four-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months.

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