A MAN on trial for his role in a cannabis factory has said the only interest he had in the drug was for medicinal purposes because he suffered from knee pain.

Christopher Tame, 40, of Wallace Street, Shoebury, took the stand at Southend Crown Court yesterday facing charges of abstracting electricity, concealing criminal cash and transferring £20,000 in criminal cash to ex-partner Jessica Pope.

Pope, 38, of Broadclyst Gardens, Southend, is also standing trial accused of possessing criminal property.

Tame admitted producing cannabis after police officers raided a home in Westcliff and found 226 plants in the loft on September 15 last year.

While prosecutor Mark Mullins alleged Tame was “an experienced cannabis grower”, Tame claimed he was only found at the property because he was watering the plants for his friend Roy Laidlaw who had been “threatened”.

Laidlaw has already pleaded guilty to producing cannabis and will be sentenced later.

Tame said: “He asked me to attend his property and water his plants as he was going on holiday to Slovakia.

“Coming from a place of feeling sorry for him, I watered his plants to stop him being threatened - as a favour to stop him getting hurt.”

Tame was then questioned about search history on his phone that included items concerning hydroponics and other cannabis cultivation terms.

The former personal trainer said: “Those are just searches. I didn’t buy anything.

“Some of the searches were made when I had an interest in the medicinal benefits for my ailments. I search for lots of things on Google. It doesn’t mean I took part in anything.”

Tame admitted accepting five cannabis plants off a friend which he claimed would help him with knee pain but denied that he was growing them for anything other than personal use.

When questioned about the £20,000 which was found at Pope’s home in Thorpe Bay, Tame claimed £8,500 came from the sale of a Rolex watch.

He added: “I rented my property out to someone for ten months and he was paying me in cash.”

He went on to claim the money was to pay solicitors who were helping him with a custody battle for his child and that Pope was looking after it because her home was safer than his home in Shoebury.

The trial continues.