A businessman has been jailed for six years three months for his involvement in a cannabis growing plot which saw four separate seizures of plants worth more than £100,000 in Kirklees.
Jailing Joseph Cox at Leeds Crown Court yesterday Judge Penelope Belcher said he had played a leading role in the conspiracy with the expectation of “considerable financial gain.”
“You had no financial need to earn money from this, you had a legitimate business doing well but chose to earn money illegally.”
Cox, 33 of Occupation Lane, Chickenley, was one of four men sentenced for their part in a conspiracy to produce cannabis. He also admitted a mortgage fraud and possessing other class B and C tablets and capsules.
Kirsti Watson prosecuting told the court the case involved the production of cannabis at two rented units and at a house in Willans Road, Dewsbury where two separate crops were discovered three months apart.
The first discovery of a cannabis farm was at a unit in Tofts Road, Cleckheaton on July 7, 2011 where police found 274 plants growing. There were 34 large plants about three weeks away from full maturity, 60 plants in a nursery and 180 plants growing in cabinets.
A forensic scientist could not estimate the potential yield from the 180 plants but the mature plants could have had a street value of around £11,000 and the nursery plants around £20,000.
The unit was rented by Cox and some of the fingerprints on the equipment belonged to Simon Hepworth, who later admitted he had stored it following an earlier arrest for producing cannabis.
On August 5 2011 police stopped a Rover car driven by Alexander Creech and found he had a box containing cannabis.
As a result his address in Willans Road was searched and eight large plants were found with the rooted remains of a further seven plants. That was the address bought by Cox with a mortgage in 2008 after he lied about his earnings as a car salesman.
Three months after the first seizure police returned to that house on October 12 with another warrant. Creech had by then moved to the south of England but 98 plants were found with a potential yield of £33,000.
Fingerprints led police to Riki Williams who the court was told helped Cox in that grow before he set up another operation in a unit in Headfield Mills, Cleckheaton where on January 26, 2012 the court heard the fourth seizure was made when 78 medium sized plants under high intensity lights were found.
They had a high estimated yield of around seven kilogrammes with a street value of £60,000. There were also other plants not so advanced and 147 cuttings.
Georgina Coade for Williams said he had done some building work for Cox and realised what he was doing in Willans Road and assisted him and when he got into financial difficulties himself had gained the experience to set up in the unit he was essentially responsible for in the unit he had previously used to store his equipment.
Andrew Dallas for Hepworth said he had allowed Cox to use the equipment which he had in store and would suffer greatly for that limited involvement.
Williams, 41 of Liversedge was jailed for four years eight months and Hepworth, 32 of Sykes Street, Cleckheaton was jailed for three years two months.
Creech, 24 now living in Lancing, Brighton, was given 17 weeks in prison suspended for 12 months with 200 hours unpaid work.
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