Cannabis conspiracy man fails in appeal court bid to have sentence cut

Court of Appeal in London.
Court of Appeal in London.

A tax-evading estates manager who was part of a £500,000-a-year cannabis plot has failed in a bid to get his jail term slashed.

David Noble, 67, of Elwick Road, Hartlepool, was for over 30 years employed by a property management company which owned a number of commercial sites in the town.

He was in charge of 150 to 200 units, was paid £26,000 to £47,000-a-year and got free accommodation, Mr Justice Hickinbottom told London’s Appeal Court.

Despite his earnings ‘he fell into debt’, owing £1,500 in Council Tax and thousands more on credit cards.

HM Revenue and Customs contacted Noble in 2012 as they were unable to find any tax records for him.

The following year, he told the tax authorities that he was unable to work, was looked after by his wife and was last employed five to seven years before.

He claimed he had no bank accounts and only £45 in cash to his name.

But investigations revealed he had been working for the property management company.

And, between 2008 and 2014, he evaded paying a total of £56,000 in tax, the court heard.

Police searched his home and properties which he managed last year.

At one of the commercial premises, they found 360 cannabis plants with a street value of £162,000.

With three crops a year, the potential value was ‘approaching half a million’.

Noble admitted being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of income tax.

And he was convicted of conspiracy to supply cannabis.

The judge who caged him for 30 months at Teesside Crown Court on May 24 said his role was to ‘provide the premises and oversee what was going on’.

Noble’s previous convictions included benefit fraud and environmental offences, the court heard.

At the latest hearing his lawyers argued that his jail term was far too tough and ought to be cut.

But Mr Justice Hickinbottom said: “This was a substantial operation, capable of producing significant quantities of cannabis for commercial use, in which Noble had undoubtedly a significant role.”

The judge, who was sitting with Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb added: “We are very firmly of the view that the sentence imposed was not manifestly excessive or otherwise wrong.

“Indeed we can firmly say that the sentence was not excessive at all and entirely appropriate. This appeal is dismissed.”