Cannabis grower to repay £60kin ill-gotten gains

A BUCHAN man has been ordered to pay £60,000 after being convicted of cultivating cannabis at an abdanoned church.

Tuesday, 31st May 2011, 3:11 pm

The Proceeds of Crime confiscation order was issued against Brian Ritchie (49), at Peterhead Sheriff Court on Thursday.

Ritchie previously admitted cultivating the Class B drug between November 2008 and August 2009 in the old church building on the grounds of his Blackhills home.

At the initial court hearing, Procurator Fiscal Eilidh Wright said that police received a tip off in August 2009 and found the cannabis plants growing in the church on Ritchie’s property.

The street value of the drugs was estimated at up to £7,000.

Police also found a large quantity of controlled drug Diazepam. Ritchie said the drugs were for his own personal use to treat medical issues.

Sentence was initially deferred pending background reports but Ritchie was later ordered to carry out 240 hours of unpaid work and placed on probation for 18 months.

The court ruled that Ritchie had a criminal lifestyle and gave him six months to pay the £60,000.