A man who claimed growing cannabis in his Black Country council flat was no more of a nuisance than cultivating tomatoes has now been evicted following a Court of Appeal ruling.
Despite a string of drugs-related convictions, Neil Hensley, aged 34, had been allowed to remain as a tenant in the Smethwick property after a district court judge accepted he was willing to change his behaviour. However, Sandwell Council had the ruling overturned yesterday.
The house was raided by police in December 2005 when they uncovered a sophisticated hydroponic cultivation system which covered the entire floor, including more than 30 cannabis plants.
Hensley received a nine-month suspended sentence and 30 hours’ community service.
He had been before the courts for drug-related offences on three previous occasions, including a conviction in 1999 for possession of cannabis with intent to supply.
When the council found out about his latest conviction, it took eviction action on grounds that Hensley had broken the tenancy agreement.
In a defence he wrote himself, Hensley argued the growing of cannabis was not anti-social and “it caused no more offence or nuisance to neighbours than growing tomato plants.”
In Birmingham County Court in November last year, the district judge issued a possession order but suspended it for two years.
Hensley had described cannabis growing as his “hobby” in his own witness statement. The judge in yesterday’s hearing said it was the council’s duty to “make sure properties are kept free from the sort of activity with which we are concerned.”
The court then ordered an outright possession order and Hensley was given 14 days to vacate the property.
Neighbours living in Church Gardens, a block of maisonettes, today said they were not aware about the cannabis. One tenant, who did not want to be named, said: “I didn’t know Mr Hensley or about anyone growing cannabis.”