A DRUG user who was caught with 13 cannabis plants in a locked room has been cleared of growing them after claiming he was cultivating geraniums.

Steven Jones’s top floor flat in Broadclyst was searched by police after his son Owen was arrested for suspected drug dealing in Sidmouth in June 2021.

Officers had difficulty getting in because he did not respond to the entrance buzzer for a few minutes and then tried to block the door when he did open it.

Police found a locked bedroom in the flat which Jones claimed was rented by a man called Pepe, who was never traced. He helped the police remove the door so they could search it.

There were two growing tents inside which contained 13 cannabis plant along with lighting and ventilation systems. Jones told the police he went into the room to water six geraniums which he grew there but knew nothing about the cannabis.

He was found not guilty by a jury at Exeter Crown Court despite exercising his right not to give evidence.

No forensic tests or fingerprinting were carried out on the tent or plant pots and there was no evidence linking him to them directly.

The jury acquitted him after asking Judge Anna Richardson whether he would be guilty if he merely paid the electricity and water bills at the property.

Jones denied cultivation of cannabis.

Mr Edward Bailey, prosecuting, said the flat was raided by police after Jones’s son Owen was arrested with 190 grams of cannabis with a street value of £1,900 and £1,500 cash in Sidmouth on June 11, 2021.

Officers saw someone moving around in the room as they were waiting to be let into the entrance hall but it was locked by the time they got into the flat. The door was removed before police found a key for it near the front door.

The plants varied in size from a few inches to three feet and were capable of producing drugs with a street value of £4,300.

Jones told police at the time that his son Owen had not lived with him for two months but had left a bag of belongings at the flat but that the locked room was occupied by a lodger who he knew only by the first name Pepe.

He told the officers that six geranium plants in the locked room did belong to him and that he had bought them at the Coop. He made no comment during a formal interview.

Mr Bailey told the jury that Jones has previous convictions for the possession of drugs but not for either dealing or growing them. A small amount of cannabis leaf, weighing just 1.2 grams, was found in his bedroom.

Mr William Parkhill, defending, said there was no evidence to link Jones to the growing operation and the mere fact that it took place in his flat did not mean he was guilty of cultivation.

He said his son Owen was obviously linked to the flat because he gave it as his address when arrested and had left his belongings there.

Mr Parkhill said Jones’s reluctance to speak to the police or give evidence may be understandable in the context of him being Owen’s father.