THE OWNER of a mobile pizza business caught growing cannabis on a farm has avoided jail after a judge reluctantly accepted that the drugs were for his own use.

Police estimated that the 110 plants growing in two outbuildings at Michele Muccilli’s farm near Northleach could produce cannabis worth up to £462,000 a year.

At Gloucester Crown Court on Friday, Judge Rupert Lowe told Muccilli, aged 40, that he was highly sceptical about his claim to be growing it for his own habit.

However, he said he had to accept it because the police could not prove otherwise.

Father-of-two Muccilli admitted growing the plants between January 1 and 6, 2021.

A 12-month community order with a six month drug rehabilitation requirement and five rehabilitation days was imposed plus a £3,000 fine, £150 costs and a £95 surcharge.

Prosecutor Michael Magier said police went to Muccilli’s Starvall Farm at Farmington near Northleach on January 5, 2021 after a member of the public tipped them off about a ‘suspicious shed.’

Fifty cannabis plants were found growing in one outbuilding and 60 in another. The rooms were equipped with fans and heaters.

Muccilli was at home and was co-operative, said Mr Magier.

He said the drugs were for his own use as he was smoking 3-4grams of cannabis a month.

No evidence of drug dealing or commercial growing was found on his phone.

“There was nothing to suggest Mr Muccilli was conducting any form of sophisticated commercial operation,” added Mr Magier.

Muccilli had lived in the UK for 15 years and had no criminal convictions in this country, he added.

Creanna Dodson, for Muccilli, said he has been smoking cannabis regularly since he was 17 and finds that it relieves a painful back condition.

She asked the court for a community order that would help him with his efforts to give up cannabis.

He runs a successful mobile pizza business and works every day, she added.

Judge Lowe told Muccilli: “You told the court that you were going to consume all the cannabis yourself but the court finds that extremely unlikely.

"The prosecution, however, have not found a phone on which the usual evidence of dealing would be apparent.

“They have accepted your basis of plea, which I do not really believe.

“I will sentence you on your basis of plea, putting my own very high degree of scepticism to one side.

"But I shall remember you if I see you here again!”