Mansfield cannabis farmer tried to pay off gambling debts

A cannabis farmer who tried to pay off gambling debts was put under pressure when threats were made against his young family in Mansfield, a court was told.

Friday, 25th June 2021, 1:26 pm

Police raided Sergej Popov's three-bed semi-detached home on Cotswold Grove at 8.15am on February 25, 2019, after neighbours reported smelling cannabis, said prosecutor Mark Knowles.

They found 18 large plants in a tent in a bedroom and 36 smaller plants in a second tent, which had been grown over a two-month period.

"He said he had lived there for 11 years with his family and had a mortgage," Mr Knowles said. "He was in debt due to his gambling and hoped to sell the drugs for £4,000."

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Nottingham Crown Court.
Nottingham Crown Court.

Farid Chisty, mitigating, said Popov had no previous convictions, made ‘full and frank admissions’ and ‘cooperated fully with the police’.

He said the defendant found himself in ‘serious financial trouble’ after ‘losing a great deal of money’ by ‘almost daily gambling’.

"He turned to a trusted friend to borrow money but he was unable to repay it. That friend became an enemy who began to make threats against his wife and young family.

"Of course that doesn't constitute a defence."

Mr Chisty said it was an ‘isolated incident’ and Popov realises he should have sought ‘alternative assistance’.

The defendant was now working increased hours to pay off the debt and has stopped gambling, he told Nottingham Crown Court on Friday.

Popov, 47, pleaded guilty to production of cannabis via a Russian interpreter at an earlier hearing.

Judge Steven Coupland imposed a 12-month sentence, suspended for one year. A Proceeds of Crime Act application will be heard on August 18.

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