JACKPOT! Half a kilo of cannabis found hidden in fruit machine

Police found over £2,000 worth of cannabis hidden in a fruit machine when they raided a house in Leeds.

The landlord of the property, James Francis, was spared jail after a court heard the drug had been grown by his tenant.

Leeds Crown Court heard Francis, 32, took a gamble and decided to keep the cannabis which he found after the tenant abandoned the property with his rent in arrears.

The court heard Francis gathered up the drug, put it in a bag and hid it in the fruit machine with a view to selling it on to recoup some of his losses.

Officers had been keeping the property on Dragon Crescent, Wortley, under observation and executed a search warrant on March 17 last year.

Francis’s DNA was found on the bag, which contained half a kilo of the class B drug.

He told officers during interview that it had belonged to people who had been living at the house.

Francis, of Stoneleigh Court, Alwoodley, pleaded guilty to possession of cannabis with intent to supply.

The court heard Francis was a hard working man who had recently been nominated for Employee of the Year by his employer.

He would now lose his job as a result of the conviction.

Marcus Waite, mitigating, said: “The tenant had been growing cannabis and he moved out in the night owning money for rent and bills.

“When the defendant returned to the property he found it in a mess and found remnants of cannabis growth.

“He tidied it up and placed it in the hopper of the fruit machine.

“He had the vague intention that he might be able to make back the money that he lost. It was opportunistic.”

Mr Waite added: “He is a man who works 40 hours a week and has a daughter and a partner.

“It’s hard to imagine him weighing it, bagging it up and selling it on the street at night.”

Judge Tom Baylis, QC, said: “I am going to deal with this on the basis most favourable to you in that you were letting this property and came across this large quantity of cannabis then decided to supply it for profit.”

Francis was given an eight month prison sentence, suspended for two years, and ordered to do 300 hours unpaid work.