Father-of-two jailed for starting a drug business after taking out a payday loan to buy cannabis plants and equipment
- Said to be “completely out of character” for father of two Keith Lockett, 32
- Lockett was jailed for eight months – partner due to give birth in June
A father of two has been jailed for taking out a payday loan – to start a drug business.
Keith Lockett, 32, whose partner is due in June, has borrowed money to buy cannabis plants and for “cultivation costs.”
Mr Lockett, described as a hardworking potter at a company in Stoke, Staffordshire, had had no previous convictions or warnings.
A father of two who took out a payday loan to set up a cannabis factory has been jailed. Keith Lockett, 32, grew the plants worth £ 15,000 in his guest room
Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court heard that ‘completely out of character’ and to raise funds, he grew plants worth £ 15,000 in his spare bedroom.
He was only searched when neighbors reported an “unusual smell” coming from his property.
Neighbors claim Lockett was a fan of the American TV show Breaking Bad – which sees high school chemistry teacher Walter White (played by actor Bryan Cranston) diagnosed with inoperable cancer and turned to a life of crime drug.
Neighbor Denise Paul, 46, said: “People on the streets said he was a fan of Breaking Bad. It certainly reflects what he did as he was a respected man here who was very popular.
‘It’s a shame he turned his hand towards that. It’s not in his character for him.
Mr Lockett, described as a hardworking potter at a company in Stoke, Staffordshire, had had no previous convictions or warnings
Another neighbor, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “Keith was the last person I would have thought to have done this. He must have been very influenced by bad people.
Prosecutor Neil Ahuja said, “When officers attended on April 21, it was clear that the upstairs back bedroom had been converted into a grow room for the cannabis plants.
‘There were 29 plants being cultivated, supported by the usual paraphernalia.
‘The property’s electricity meter had been bypassed to provide free electricity for this.
The court heard the plants were weeks away from maturity and were said to have an estimated market value of £ 15,000.
When questioned by police, Lockett, of Bentilee, Staffordshire, claimed he was growing cannabis for his own use and it was a one-time operation.
However, text messages to his cell phone proved he had set up the operation with others, although Lockett was the only person charged with it.
The power company said the estimated value of the electricity used illegally, along with the damage to the meter, would be £ 1,536.
Lockett, who already has two children aged four and seven, has pleaded guilty to producing cannabis and taking electricity.
The court heard that he had lost his job in a pottery business as a result of his crime.
Hamish Noble, defending, said: “It’s clear that Keith Lockett has had his own struggles with cannabis abuse and heavy drinking.
Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court heard that ‘completely out of character’ and to raise funds, he grew plants worth £ 15,000 in his spare bedroom. He was only searched when neighbors reported an “unusual smell” coming from his property.
“This operation has started to offset the cost of purchasing cannabis, and growth has been doing better than expected.
‘He wouldn’t have had the 29 plants himself, rather seven or eight. In the weeks leading up to his arrest, he was considering withdrawing from the operation.
The court heard Lockett was “ashamed and remorseful”, but the judge said “a message must be sent”.
Imprisoning Lockett for eight months, Judge Fletcher told him: “You knew it was illegal, you knew there was a risk, and now you know that when the risks don’t pay off, there are consequences. “
‘You affected yourself but above all your partner, your children and now your unborn child by this greedy and foolish behavior.
‘I see no reason why I should suspend the sentence.