Two drug dealers were sentenced to more than nine years imprisonment at Amersham Crown Court on Friday (June 1).
Gary Peter Lockett, 30, from Simms Croft, Middleton, and Richard York, 31, from Monro Avenue, Crownhill, had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to being concerned together in the production of cannabis between January 1 and November 10 2011.
The charges and pleas were in relation to a cannabis factory found at York’s home address.
Lockett was also charged with conspiracy to produce and supply cannabis in relation to another address at Lundholme, Heelands. He pleaded not guilty to these charges and a trial took place between April 30 and May 4, and he was found guilty of conspiring to produce cannabis, and the further offence of conspiracy to supply will also lie on Lockett’s file.
Both men were sentenced on Friday. Lockett received eight years imprisonment, and York was sentenced to 14 months.
The convictions come after a successful operation by Thames Valley Polices’ Serious and Organised Crime Unit (SOCU).
On March 7 2011, a warrant was carried out under the Misuse of Drugs Act at a residential property in Lundholme. The house had been set up as a commercial cannabis factory, with the bedrooms and living areas organised and modified to grow cannabis - the electricity meter had been bypassed and specialist equipment had been installed throughout the house.
The loft had also been adapted, having been fitted with large extractor units. The only occupant of the house was Reing Phen, a Vietnamese man, 18 at the time, now aged 19. He was arrested on suspicion of cultivation of cannabis and 132 cannabis plants were recovered from rooms within the house.
Phen admitted in interview that he’d been employed by a Vietnamese Organised Crime Group to grow the cannabis. He was subsequently convicted of cannabis production at Aylesbury Crown Court on April 18 2011 and received an 18 month custodial sentence.
Street value of the cannabis seized at the house was approximately £46,220. The house had been set up on a rotation system to produce three crops a year. The annual yield would have been £138,660 of cannabis.
After the warrant at Lundholme, the investigation continued and officers carried out another warrant at Monro Avenue on June 2 2011.
Officers discovered another organised cannabis factory. Police seized 59 cannabis plants, including 28 mature plants, from a garage area which had been converted into a ‘grow room’ facility with, lighting, fans, timers, and de-humidifiers. A further 31 smaller cannabis cuttings were found in a first floor bedroom along with other juvenile plants, indicating that the bedroom was being used as a ‘nursery’ for an intended follow-on crop.
The street value of the seized cannabis was approximately £9,060 to £15,860. The house had been set up on a rotation system, again to produce three crops per year. The annual yield would have been £36,240 to £63,660 street value.
York was arrested and interviewed. He stated Monro Avenue was his home and that he lived there alone. He took responsibility for the cannabis stating that he had cultivated it for his own use as he was a heavy cannabis user.
Drugs expert evidence also proves that Monro Avenue was a commercial venture, and outlines that the level of production far exceeds the amount that could be smoked by York as a lone cannabis user.
Both men were charged on November 10 2011, after the investigation showed that Lockett had involvement in the management of both cannabis factories and York lived and supervised the second in Monro Avenue.
The court agreed with the evidence and both men have now been sent to prison.
DC Richard Jones, from the SOCU, said: “This case involved many months of protracted investigation by the Serious and Organised Crime Unit, not least by DC Rod Rhymes who spent hundreds of hours sifting through a large amount of covertly obtained evidence.
“The operation has put an end to Gary Lockett’s criminal enterprise producing commercial amounts of cannabis for supply to Milton Keynes and the wider communities.
“I am pleased with the sentences, which reflect the seriousness of the offences. Confiscation work is ongoing to seize any assets the men have made from their crimes. Drug dealers need to know that we are dedicated to removing them and their enterprises from our streets, and seizing any assets they have made illegally.”