A MUM-OF-THREE who converted her family’s home in to a drugs den has narrowly avoided jail.

Laurie Pearce, from Somercotes in Laindon, told a Basildon Crown Court judge that she grew 103 cannabis plants for personal use after a small batch of seeds got out of hand.

However, Judge Ian Graham dismissed her excuses, and sentenced her to 18 months in prison, suspended for 18 months, and 150 hours community service.

He said: “It is extraordinarily stupid for someone who says they care so much about their children to get involved in growing drugs.”

Charlotte Davison, prosecuting, told the court officers from Basildon’s proactive team raided Pearce’s home in Somercotes on February 2 at about 10.30am.

They found an upstairs bedroom had been converted into a sophisticated growing room. It contained 63 mature cannabis plants, about three feet tall.

Downstairs, officers discovered a makeshift extension had been tagged on to the kitchen. It contained another 40 plants along with heat lamps, fans and other growing equipment.

Further investigation found Pearce, who has children aged ten, 12 and 14, had been by-passing the house’s electricity meter, stealing £2,249 from the grid.

Mark Savage, mitigating, said Pearce, 35, worked part-time as a cleaner and did not have money for drugs, so decided to grow her own. The court heard she had started drinking and using drugs as a teenager after her mother attempted suicide when she was aged eight.

He said: “She gained her knowledge of growing drugs from the internet and it got out of hand. Her two mobile phones were seized and there was no evidence she was dealing drugs.

“There was no communication with parties dealing drugs, such as the Bush Boys who operate in Laindon. Similarly, there were no large quantities of cash in the house or dealer lists.”

Pearce admitted producing cannabis, abstracting £2,249 electricity and possession of 31.2g of cannabis and cannabis resin and 7.9g of amphetamine at an earlier hearing.

Judge Graham said: “You have three kids who depend on you, yet you decided to embark on a cannabis operation.

“You should have thought much more about them before starting this cannabis factory.

“You placed yourself at great risk of going to prison, which would have separated you from them.”