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James Hooper grew 65 cannabis parts at Sticklepath home 'as an experiment'

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: December 27, 2012

A man who claimed he grew 65 cannabis plants at his home as part of a scientific experiment which "got out of hand" failed to convince magistrates.

When arrested, James Anthony Barry Hooper, of Sticklepath, North Devon, told police he hoped to turn a fully-grown female cannabis plant into a male one.

When asked why he had grown 65 plants for his gender-bending experiment he told officers he had "got a little carried away".

Hooper, 42, pleaded guilty to producing the plants in a shed and outbuilding at the home he shares with his partner when he appeared at North Devon Magistrates' Court.

The court heard how the plants were discovered by police when they searched the out-of-work builder's home in May.

Lyndsey Baker, for the prosecution, said when interviewed he told police he had no intention of selling the cannabis produced, which a forensic scientist estimated to be worth £14,000.

Tony Dart, for the defence, said Hooper had started his experiment because he was out of work and "had time on his hands".

"The experiment became something of an obsession for him," he said.

As the plants, which Hooper had planted in the house, grew he moved them to the shed.

Mr Dart added: "He doesn't smoke, wasn't going to put them into a cake and eat them and had no intention of selling them.

"Though it may be fanciful, that is his explanation."

Magistrates were unconvinced though and sent the case to Exeter Crown Court – which has greater powers – for sentencing in the new year.

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