A FORMER falconer whose eagle owls played a starring in the Harry Potter films has been fined for growing cannabis.
Kenneth Lea, 56, said he had grown the plants in an attempt to self-medicate to ease the pain of his arthritis, a court heard.
The court heard Lea had no previous convictions related to illegal narcotics but had been jailed in 2009 for causing unnecessary suffering to bird in his care under the Animal Welfare Act.
Lea, whose eagle owls appeared in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in 2005, extracted soothing oil from the cannabis plants he grew in his garage.
Police found 61 plants at Lea’s home in Wakefield, this January.
Their estimated total value was put at more than £23,500.
Prosecutor Jill Seddon said there were 50 to 60 plants at different stages of growth.
Some were in tents and there were small tubes of cannabis oil.
Lea pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to being concerned in the production of cannabis and possession of it.
A special hearing was held on Monday to determine whether Lea’s claim of “personal use” was consistent with the amount of cannabis found.
Det Con Andrew Shaw, who has more than 20 years worth of experience police service and had worked on many drugs cases, was called to give his expert opinion.
He said the cannabis oil was seldom seen by drug officers.
He said: “It doesnt seem to be commercially valuable or you spend an awful lot of money on other chemicals and various materials to convert into oil.”
There also was not any evidence of drug dealing equipment.
Judge Adrian Lower accepted Lea’s account of producing it to self—medicate.
But he said: “With self-medication there are obvious dangers to your own health, which appears to be a risk you were prepared to take.”
HGV driver Lea was fined £600. He must also pay £85 court costs and a £60 victim surcharge.