Cannabis farm five ordered to hand over money

The confiscation hearing took place at York Crown Court.
The confiscation hearing took place at York Crown Court.

Five men whose Ripon cannabis farm netted them £55,950 have been ordered to repay their ill-gotten gains.

At a confiscation hearing at York Crown Court on Monday, March 24, two of the men were ordered to repay £9,400 each while the other three will have to repay their share as soon as they acquire any more assets.

The following defendants were all sentenced to terms of imprisonment in June last year for their part in the drugs set-up, which was located in a detached garage at a rental property on Boroughbridge Road:

– David Peter Guest, 45, formerly of Boroughbridge Road, Ripon, was sentenced to 30 months’ imprisonment for production of cannabis and possession of cannabis.

– Ivan Paul Bellwood, 49, of East Park Mount, Leeds and Grant David Bilton, 23, of Broadway, Horsforth, near Leeds were both sentenced to six months’ imprisonment for cannabis production.

– Peter David Michael Leek, 37, of Whitecliffe Crescent, Swillington, Leeds was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment for cannabis production and possession of cannabis.

– James Michael Cook, 32, of Haw Lane, Yeadon, Leeds, was jailed for nine months for cannabis production.

The confiscation hearing found that Guest had benefitted from his criminal enterprise to the value of £18,350, which includes his share in the value of the drugs and several cash payments which were made in setting up the premises in which the drugs were located.

The other four defendants were found to have benefited from their criminal activity to the value of £9,400 each.

Bellwood and Cook had sufficient realisable assets to meet their benefit from the offence and were each ordered to pay the sum of £9,400 each. Should the other defendants acquire suitable assets in the future, North Yorkshire Police will pursue them through the courts to recover the money.

Financial Investigator Peter Mekins, of North Yorkshire Police’s Financial Investigation Unit, said: “Criminal activity does not pay and we will pursue criminals through the courts using the Proceeds of Crime Act to hit them in their pockets – where it hurts the most.

“We will be relentless in our pursuit of any outstanding debt should the three remaining defendants acquire any assets in the future.”

The men’s arrests and convictions came after officers executed a drugs warrant at the property on February 7, 2011.

Four of the defendants were found in the double garage of the property, in the process of harvesting a substantial cannabis crop. The fifth – Guest – was the tenant of the property.

The garage had been converted into a sophisticated hydroponic system and the cannabis was believed to be of top quality, with the amount recovered estimated to be worth around £47,000.