Cannabis plants missing from crime scene

MORE than 50 cannabis plants went missing from a house – even though the police had an officer on duty outside. The plants – some over five feet in height – had been discovered in the loft after an arson attack. They had been left at Anthony Loftman s hom

MORE than 50 cannabis plants went missing from a house - even though the police had an officer on duty outside.

The plants - some over five feet in height - had been discovered in the loft after an arson attack.

They had been left at Anthony Loftman's home while scenes of crime officers carried out investigations into the fire at his council home in Spring Road, Letchworth GC.

Luton Crown Court heard yesterday (Wednesday) that although a police officer was on duty outside the front door, someone managed to get into the back garden and loft and remove the plants.

Loftman, 47, had been arrested for the cultivation of cannabis when he returned home after the fire. He admitted the offence in a police interview and was bailed with a condition that he did not return to his home while the police investigations were carried out.

Pc Katie Tucker told the court: "At some point the cannabis plants went missing."

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Stephen Akinsanya, defending, asked her: "You are not suggesting Mr Loftman went back to remove the plants?" She replied: "I am not."

Prosecutor Laura Blackband said the police were alerted when firefighters discovered the plants on the evening of July 5 last year. An officer estimated there were between 50 and 70 plants in the loft. Loftman, a rigger and stage technician, told police he grew the drug for his personal use to relieve the effects of arthritis.

Miss Blackband said Loftman had also broken into City Plumbing Supplies on the Woodside Industrial Estate in April last year. He had caused damage to the value of £275 to a door panel and was traced by blood at the scene.

The father-of-two appeared for sentence having admitted cultivation of cannabis and a commercial burglary.

Mr Akinsanya said Loftman grew the cannabis for his own use to avoid going to street dealers. At the time there were no more than four active plants growing. He said the burglary took place after he had been drinking. Nothing was stolen.

Judge John Farnworth jailed Loftman for 21 months and ordered that his cannabis-growing equipment is destroyed.

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