Former Harry Potter birdman grew cannabis

Kenneth Lea with a Bengal Eagle Owl.
Kenneth Lea with a Bengal Eagle Owl.

A former falconer to the Harry Potter film franchise grew cannabis to ease the pain of his arthritis.

Wakefield Magistrates’ Court heard how Kenneth 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.

Kenneth Lea

Kenneth Lea

Police found 61 plants at Lea’s home in New Hall Close, Crigglestone on January 7. 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, 56, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to being concerned in the production of cannabis and possession of it.

The court heard Lea had no previous convictions for drugs but had been jailed in 2009 for causing unnecessary suffering under the Animal Welfare Act.

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’ police service and has worked on many drugs cases, was called to give his expert opinion.

He said the cannabis oil was seldom seen by drug officers, adding: “It doesn’t 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 wasn’t 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.

The 2005 blockbuster Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire featured nine eagle owls, which belonged to Kenneth Lea.

Lea was also a former falconer at the Royal Armouries in Leeds.

But in 2009 Lee was jailed under the Animal Welfare Act for causing unnecessary suffering following an RSPCA raid at Old Park Farm, Welbeck Lane, Wakefield in 2008.

The offence was referred to in Lea’s drugs case on Monday when he was fined.