Cannabis farmer jailed for 12 months for his part in drugs conspiracy

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The fourth member of a gang of cannabis farmers who hid their grow of 360 plants in business units has been jailed for 12 months.

Christopher Tobin was due to be sentenced earlier this week at Teesside Crown Court, but failed to turn up.

A warrant was issued for his arrest, and he was brought before the same court on Wednesday.

Prosecutor Alan Armbrister said police carried out a covert surveillance operation on two business premises in Hartlepool, both managed on behalf of their owners by co-defendant David Noble.

“The premises were a former timber yard in Brenda Road, and a business unit in Bertha Street,” said Mr Armbrister.

“Tobin and other conspirators were let into the property by Noble, and observed taking in scaffolding, boards, plastic sheets and masking tape.

“Seedlings and other evidence of a cannabis grow were found in one unit, and 360 plants were found in the other.

“It is estimated the annual cash yield from the operation could have been £486,000.”

Tobin, 30 of Allerton Close, Hartlepool, admitted conspiring to supply cannabis.

Martin Scarborough, defending, said his client had acted only as a gardener, and had not made a large amount of money from the conspiracy.

Judge Peter Armstrong jailed Tobin for a year.

Noble, 66, of Elwick Road, Hartlepool, was convicted of conspiracy to supply cannabis after a trial, and was jailed for 30 months.

Anthony Stokle, 39, of Mariner’s Close, Hartlepool, and Jamie Wharton, 39, of Crimdon Cottage, Coast Road, Crimdon, both admitted conspracy to supply cannabis.

Stokle was jailed for 14 months, and Wharton was jailed for nine months.

The judge praised Detective Constable Natalie Davies and Cleveland Police for their skilful investigation of the conspiracy.

Wharton’s address is listed as Crimdon Cottage, Coast Road, Crimdon and is not connected to Crimdon House Farm.