A COVENTRY man who had his jail term for growing cannabis overturned has narrowly avoided going back behind bars.
Raymond Forbes has appeared at Warwick Crown Court where he admitted breaching the suspended sentence given to him by the Court of Appeal by failing to carry out unpaid work.
The judge told the 54-year-old of Fir Tree Avenue, Tile Hill, he was ‘sorely tempted’ to impose the suspended sentence.
But instead Recorder William Edis QC ordered Forbes to do an additional 21 hours of unpaid work and allowed the suspended sentence to continue.
In June last year Forbes had been jailed for 27 months after pleading guilty to producing cannabis.
But he appealed against the sentence, and in October the Court of Appeal quashed the term of immediate imprisonment – instead imposing a two-year suspended sentence with 120 hours of unpaid work.
Prosecutor Raj Punia said Forbes had then raised issues over his health, and failed to turn up even for an induction meeting for the unpaid work.
Miss Punia pointed out that had Forbes attended, he would have been told the work he was required to do, but said he had not engaged at all.
Shown a medical certificate from November saying Forbes was suffering from stress, Recorder Edis commented: “There’s no evidence before me to suggest this man is unfit to do unpaid work, and stress is not a good reason not to attend an induction.
“It is my provisional view that Mr Forbes is playing games – and I am here to stop that.
“One way of doing so is to activate the suspended sentence.”
William Dudley, defending, said Forbes was ‘terrifically motivated’ not to return to prison, though admitted he had not demonstrated that.
He added: “He is very keen to avoid custody, having spent three-and-a-half months in HMP Hewell.
“He is under absolutely no illusions about the possible outcome of today’s hearing.
“He has spent time in prison, 15-and-a-half weeks of what was possibly the most terrifying period of his life.”
Mr Dudley said Forbes had been worried that health problems would mean he could not carry out the unpaid work and that the Probation Service would lose patience with him.
And rather than discussing the situation with them at the induction meeting, he had simply buried his head in the sand.
Sentencing Forbes, Recorder Edis told him: “From the outset, you have simply failed to engage with that sentence.
“You have displayed contempt for the Court of Appeal.
“I am sorely tempted to activate that sentence, but I am going to give you one last chance.
“The next breach, you will go to prison.”