Pair ordered to pay back ill-gotten gains from Hartlepool cannabis farm

The cannabis farm which could have produced drugs worth �486,000 a year.
The cannabis farm which could have produced drugs worth �486,000 a year.

Two men involved in a cannabis farm operation worth almost half a million pounds have been ordered to pay back some of the money they stood to gain.

David Noble, Anthony Stokle, Jamie Wharton and Christopher Tobin set up the illegal grow of 380 plants in two units managed by Noble.

Each man received jail terms ranging from 30 months to a year when they were sentenced at Teesside Crown Court last May.

Prosecutor Alan Armbrister then said: “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.”

The authorities launched a Proceeds of Crime Application to make the men pay back any ill-gotten gains from the farm.

At a hearing this week, the court heard that both Tobin, 31, and 39-year-old Stokle, benefited from their roles by £3,000 each.

Stokle, of Mariners Point, Hartlepool, who was jailed for 14 months, was ordered to give up £2,716, which had previously been seized by police.

Investigations found Tobin, of Allerton Close, Hartlepool, who served 12 months, only had assets totalling £470 which he was ordered to forfeit.

Martin Scarborough, defending, previously said Tobin had acted only as a gardener, and had not made a large amount of money.

The figures were agreed by Judge Sean Morris who gave each man two months to pay.

The court heard Noble has now been released from his 30-month prison sentence but his whereabouts are currently unknown.

A hearing to determine how much he and Wharton, who got nine months, gained from the operation and what they will have to pay back is due to take place on Wednesday, April 12.

The court previously heard that police carried out secret surveillance on two business premises, both managed on behalf of their owners by Noble.

They were a former timber yard in Brenda Road and a business unit in Bertha Street.