Police find 23 cannabis plants

A Wetherby man has been jailed after police discovered a highly equipped cannabis farm in rural North Yorkshire.

Wednesday, 17th February 2021, 11:18 am

Thomas Leggett, 29, had rigged up sophisticated hydroponic systems and “growing tents” at the farm in Ulleskelf, near Tadcaster, where police found 23 plants nearing fruition, York Crown Court heard when he appeared for sentence last week.

Leggett had earlier been stopped in a white Volkswagen van near the farm when he handed police a bag of drugs “the size of a tennis ball”, said prosecutor Chloe Fairley.

He was pulled over at about midnight and told police “there would be cannabis inside”, she added.

Later that morning, after Leggett had been taken into custody, police searched the farm, which was home to Leggett’s partner, 30-year-old Anna Bould.

During the search, on March 7, 2019, officers found that two of the upstairs bedrooms had been turned into cannabis grows “using growing tents and sophisticated equipment”.

The 23 plants, which were about eight weeks’ old, were “beginning to flower”.

The estimated yield, should the plants have been fully cultivated and bagged up, was worth up to £11,000.

“Also found was a book with names and numbers (which looked like) a dealer list,” said Ms Fairley.

Police also discovered drug bags with “multiple tablets”. The 342 tablets were MDMA – a Class A drug similar to Ecstasy. They had an estimated “street value” of £1,710.

Leggett gave police a prepared statement claiming that the MDMA and cannabis were for his own use and refused to answer questions thereafter, as did Bould after she was arrested.

They were both charged with cannabis production and possessing MDMA with intent to supply.

Leggett, of North Brook Crescent, Wetherby, admitted producing a Class B drug but denied possessing MDMA with intent. He ultimately admitted simple possession of a Class A drug.

The prosecution accepted his pleas, despite judge Sean Morris, the Recorder of York, casting doubt on Leggett’s intentions with 342 MDMA tablets. A formal not-guilty verdict was entered on the intent-to-supply charge.

Bould, now of Bishopdyke Road, Sherburn-in-Elmet, admitted cannabis production on the basis that she knew her partner had been growing the plants and allowed it to happen on the farm. She didn’t smoke cannabis, didn’t sell it and did not stand to benefit financially from the grow.

The prosecution accepted this basis of plea and a not-guilty verdict was entered in relation to the MDMA charge, which she had denied.

Ms Fairley described the cannabis farm as “very sophisticated”, including the “lining of the rooms and all the hydroponics”.

She said that Leggett, who has a previous conviction for cannabis possession, was the spearhead of the growing enterprise.

Richard Canning, for Leggett, said his client accepted he had grown cannabis for profit but was unlikely to reoffend.

Jessica Randell, for Bould, said her client had never been in trouble before.

Judge Mr Morris told Leggett: “You have to understand that peddling drugs is a serious matter and this was a pretty good effort.

“The pictures (of the grow) depict a very-well-set-out drug-growing enterprise that could have netted you…about £11,000… and that’s just for this one crop, because no doubt you wouldn’t have stopped.

“You didn’t admit your offence to police: you said it was for your own use, which wasn’t true. There was a dealer list, and it was a well-planned and sophisticated growing enterprise.”

Jailing Leggett for six months, Mr Morris said the defendant’s first-ever stretch behind bars would be a “short, sharp shock…that other people will learn from, hopefully”.

Mr Morris said although Bould had played a lesser role in the cannabis grow, “you were quite happy to let this go on”.

Noting Bould’s “good character”, he gave her an 18-month community order with a three-month nightly doorstep curfew which will be electronically monitored. She was also ordered to complete a five-day rehabilitation programme and pay a statutory surcharge of £85.

Mr Morris postponed confiscation proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act until June.