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Liverpool Echo
Liverpool Echo
Lynda Roughley & Abigail Nicholson

Cannabis farm gardener covered in blood after hammer attack by rival gang

A cannabis farm gardener was left covered in blood after being attacked with hammers when a rival gang broke in.

Paul Ryding, 54, was found covered in blood when police arrived after a neighbour raised the alarm having heard a commotion. He was taken to hospital in a distressed state but when interviewed by officers, he made no comment, a court heard.

Ryding, who had agreed to look after the plants in return for a roof over his head, told a judge how he is still being treated by a cognitive behaviour therapy specialist and a physiotherapist.

READ MORE: Man trapped inside his home after car engulfed in flames outside

Ryding told the court: "The physiotherapist seems to think I have crushed blood vessels in my neck causing dizzy spells and blacking out. She says there is a lot of work to be done.

"I cannot turn my head and I have panic attacks every day. I wake up every day in agony because of moving around in my sleep."

After his evidence Judge Neil Flewitt KC asked his barrister: "Does he understand if he is pulling the wool over my eyes I can have him back and vary my sentence?"

Ryding’s counsel, Julian Nutter replied: “If he is pulling the wool over yours I can only say he has pulled the wool over mine. I have seen him twice."

He had earlier told Liverpool Crown Court that the defendant had suffered a whiplash type injury and was left with post traumatic stress disorder after the incident on January 17 this year. Ryding, of Egerton Street, New Brighton, pleaded guilty to producing cannabis, possessing cannabis and abstracting electricity.

Derek Jones, prosecuting, told how when police arrived at the flat in Poulton Road, Wallasey they found the front door was smashed in.

He said: "Another gang had clearly got word that cannabis was growing there and decided to break in. It was clear that he (the defendant) was the victim of an assault."

Inside the property officers found 191 young cannabis plants including 179 rooted cuttings in a propagator and they were being got ready to go into the loft area. Mr Jones said it was a sophisticated operation with 33 lighting units, four carbon filters and eight two kilowatt heaters and the electricity meter had been by-passed.

Estimates for the potential yield ranged between five to 16 kilos with a value between £26,000 and £240,000. Mr Nutter said that Ryding, who has three previous convictions including supplying and producing cannabis three decades ago, had been sofa surfing after returning from France but was now in supported accommodation.

He was in France looking after his disabled mum and was then stuck there because of the covid pandemic. He returned when there was a window of opportunity but had no address and no bank account and was “a desperate man and ended up on the streets.”

Judge Flewitt said that after his return to the UK he was offered the chance of accommodation in return for looking after the plants.

The judge said: "You made a calculated decision to accept that offer. In January this year things went very badly wrong because of other criminals from nearby knowing there was cannabis being grown there.

"And no doubt hoping to reap the rewards of other people's efforts, broke in armed with hammers and a Samurai sword and terrorised you in the hope of getting information of where the harvested cannabis was being kept. I accept you were physically injured.

"You were attacked with those hammers and threatened with that Samurai sword and I accept at the very least you suffer from PTSD.”

Judge Flewitt said that although Ryding was making good progress “it appears you have a long way to go.”

He sentenced him to 12 months imprisonment suspended for two years and ordered him to carry out 20 days rehabilitation activities.

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