Dealer granddad must pay £25k of drugs profits

David Johnson
David Johnson
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A GRANDDAD who turned to cannabis dealing after poor health forced him to give up his well-paid job has been ordered to pay back almost £25,000 of illegal profits.

Hartlepool man David Johnson turned to crime after a series of heart attacks ended his career as an engineer.

The 60-year-old grew a high-tech cannabis farm in his loft, described by a judge as one of the “most sophisticated” he had encountered.

Johnson was jailed for three years back in January.

But he was back before the courts yesterday when a judge made a confiscation order of £24,994.92 under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Officers from Hartlepool Police said it sends out a strong message that crime does not pay.

His wife Janet, who denied knowing anything about the cannabis farm, walked from court with a suspended sentence earlier this year after being found guilty of allowing the drug to be grown in her house.

A separate confiscation order of £1,500 was yesterday made for Johnson’s wife.

In January, Teesside Crown Court heard how the granddad-of-two turned his hand to cannabis growing so he could continue to live the lifestyle he was used to and pay off debts.

The crop, in his home in Haswell Avenue, in the Foggy Furze area of Hartlepool, came complete with its own automatic watering and feeding system.

Johnson, who had to give up work nine years ago, admitted producing and supplying cannabis.

Rachel Masters, prosecuting, said in interview Johnson told police he had been growing cannabis for financial gain because he was “struggling to maintain the lifestyle” he had become accustomed to.

The court heard he did not use the cannabis himself.

The loft had been converted into two separate growing areas with reflective sheeting covering the walls and floor while the electricity meter had been tampered with to aid the growth.

Johnson’s wife Janet, 59, received a 12-month prison sentence suspended for two years after she was convicted of permitting her premises to be used for producing cannabis.

The former property sales executive, who was made redundant around three years ago, claimed she did not know it was there.

Christine Egerton, mitigating for David Johnson, said the reason he became involved was because he had debts and his “biggest regret” was that his wife had got caught up in it.

Recorder Jonathan Sandiford said at the time it was one of the “most sophisticated farms” he had ever encountered.

A spokeswoman for Cleveland Police said: “Yesterday’s outcome of the Proceeds of Crime hearing sends out a stark message that crime does not pay and we will continue to use The Proceeds of Crime Act legislation to ensure that criminals can not and do not benefit from their actions.”

All money seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act goes to the Treasury.

Police swooped on the house on April 7, last year.

Anyone with information about drugs is urged to contact Hartlepool Police on the non-emergency number 101 or ring Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.