Skunk farm found at unit of ‘off the rails’ dad

Gerald Faulkner
Gerald Faulkner

A businessman who got involved in drug dealing has been jailed for more than three years.

Motorbike dealer Gerald Faulkner rented a unit on an industrial estate in Peterlee and used it to hide a sophisticated cannabis farm.

The dad-of-three, who a court heard was “off the rails,” was also involved in handling high purity cocaine which was to be cut and sold on the streets.

The 41-year-old arrived at Teesside Crown Court with a holdall expecting to be sent to jail.

He previously pleaded guilty to production of cannabis and possession of the drug and cocaine with intent to supply.

Police searched the industrial estate unit rented by Faulkner in June 2013.

Matthew Collins, prosecuting, said: “Officers found three hydroponic tanks containing 80 cannabis plants in various stages of growth.

“The Crown say this was a commercial operation. The defendant’s home in Ellison Road, Peterlee, was subsequently searched.

“Officers found between one and two kilograms of skunk cannabis and also cocaine with a cutting agent.”

Although the amount of cocaine was quite small at 65.2 grams it was found to be 78% pure.

At a previous legal hearing, Faulkner claimed he was growing the cannabis plants as a hobby and the drugs were mostly for personal use.

But Judge Simon Bourne-Arton did not agree.

In mitigation, James Adams said Faulkner had now stopped taking drugs and despite mental health difficulties had done voluntary work for a local charity.

Mr Adams said: “He’s not just a rogue and a villain, as perhaps his earlier offending and these offences might suggest.

“He was very much hooked on drugs at the time. Things were getting completely out of hand.”

He added Faulkner, of Frederick Street, Sunderland, was “ashamed” of the example he had set to his children.

Sentencing him to three-and-a-half years prison, Judge Bourne-Arton said: “I’m quite satisfied at the time we are concerned with, March 2013, you were off the rails and clearly you had a drug problem.

“You were producing a significant number of cannabis plants for onward transmission and supply.

“At the same time you had cocaine, albeit not a huge quantity, but was high purity again for onward supply and you had access to cutting agents.

“That is an aggravating feature.”