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Pensioner convicted of tending to cannabis factory thanks judge for not jailing him

John Lynn (74) said ‘You’ll not be seeing me again, your honour’

Ciaran BarnesSunday Life

A pensioner convicted of tending to a drugs factory for a mid-Ulster crime gang has thanked a judge for not jailing him.

After being told his 18-month prison sentence for cultivating cannabis was being suspended for three years, John Lynn promised: “You’ll not be seeing me again, your honour.”

The 74-year-old retired businessman, who is now among Northern Ireland’s oldest criminals, then shuffled from the dock of Craigavon Crown Court.

We called to Lynn’s plush home on the outskirts of Lurgan, but there was no sign of him. He later rang our reporter to deliver this expletive-filled rant before hanging up: “Here, why don’t you go and f**k yourself? Go on, get the f**k out of my road, f**k off.”

The disgraced pensioner was caught red-handed during a June 2017 police raid at the cannabis factory hidden inside disused commercial premises on William Street in Lurgan.

The court was told that he was effectively the “gardener” and it was his job to water and tend to the 262 plants.

“As police entered the building, John Lynn came from inside the growing rooms. He was caught red-handed,” explained a prosecution lawyer.

“During the interview, he accepted he was responsible for handling the plants but said others were in control of the enterprise.”

These two individuals were named during the court proceedings. However, both were acquitted after a trial earlier this year.

“The defendant’s role was the day-to-day gardener,” added the prosecution lawyer.

“This was a significant enough enterprise.”

A barrister for Lynn described how his embarrassed client made full admissions to police when apprehended at the scene and during later interviews.

He revealed how the pensioner could have tried to avoid arrest but walked over to officers raiding the cannabis factory.

“He [Lynn] could have left the building by another exit, but he approached police and told them be had been watering the plants for CBD oil,” said the defence lawyer.

Outlining why he became involved in cultivating drugs, Lynn said he had been approached by two men to take part and that he had an interest in the medicinal properties of cannabis.

“He [Lynn] had been reading about [cannabis] oil as he had been suffering from seizures and wanted to explore it,” said his barrister.

“This man has just turned 74. He worked for 40 years in a business and employed many young people over the years. He stopped work at 66 when he had 12 employees.”

Appealing for any jail sentence to be suspended, the barrister explained how Lynn was a full-time carer for his wife, who is bed-bound for up to 20 hours per day.

“He has a limited income, and he knows what he did was wrong,” added the lawyer.

Suspending the pensioner’s prison term, the judge said: “The courts have been at pains over the years to emphasise the terrible effects drugs have on society, including cannabis, the drug you were involved in the production of.

“I am satisfied there are individuals who perpetrated this enterprise and got you involved. They were acquitted by a jury, but I will say they were the perpetrators of this enterprise.”

The court heard how Lynn has a limited criminal record, with the last conviction in 2002 for drink driving. He told the court that he had not touched alcohol in the 20 years since.

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