Mercy for Lynton farm shop keeper who grew cannabis

North Devon Gazette

A farm shop owner who set up a cannabis growing operation has been given a suspended sentence.Â

Dominic Cornish runs the Moorland Pantry in Lynton, North Devon, but set up two growing rooms at his home where police seized more than 100 plants.Â

Texts showed he was supplying a small network of friends with harvested skunk and dreamt of turning it into a business if and when cannabis was legalised.Â

He had six kilograms of waste products from previous grows which he was experimenting with, possibly trying to make hemp material by grinding it up.Â

He sold CBT oil in his shop but it was bought in, made by others, and contained no active ingredients. Â

Cornish, aged 46, of Hillsford, near Lynton, admitted production of cannabis and possession with intent to supply. He was jailed for two years, curfewed for eight months, ordered to do 200 hours unpaid community work and pay £1,200 costs by Judge Timothy Rose at Exeter Crown Court. Â

He told him the only reason he was not going straight to jail was because he is a single parent with responsibility for two daughters aged 15 and 18.Â

He said: “What were you thinking, effectively doing this in front of your children? It is highly unlikely they were oblivious to it.Â

“I think it is the bible that says that the sins of the father should not be vested on the children, but you have put yourself at risk of a prison sentence.Â

“It is obvious that during Covid you provided an important and very generous service to your local community in making sure people were able to continue receiving food from your business.”Â

Miss Kelly Scrivener, prosecuting, said police raided Cornish’s home on February 25, 2020, and found 24 mature plants in one room and 97 in tents in a second.Â

These varied in size and age but police estimated the maximum potential value was £40,300 if three crops a year were harvested, but this would fall if the drugs were sold by the ounce rather than in street deals.Â

Cash amounting to £2,070 was seized alongside 142 grams of harvested skunk with a street value of up to £1,100. There were also mixtures of bud and leaf and a large amount of ground-up waste products.Â

A message on Cornish’s phone said he was ‘investing in stock for the up-and-coming cannabis industry, which is going to be great’. Other texts showed he was selling on a small scale to friends for months before he was caught.Â

He has convictions related to cannabis going back 26 years including four for previous cultivations.Â

Miss Simranjit Kamal, defending, said Cornish is the sole carer for his daughters and it would cause serious disruption to their education of he went to jail.Â

His shop is a central part of the community in Lynton and he won praise for his efforts to supply shielding residents during lockdown last year.Â

His previous involvement with cannabis was many years ago and his principal objective was his own supply and his experimentation with other uses of the drug.