Cannabis farmer jailed after police find 44 plants in his Hartlepool home weeks before harvesting £24,000 crop

A businessman has been jailed after police found a cannabis farm in a locked room at the home he shared with his partner and six children.

Thursday, 10th January 2019, 1:20 pm
Updated Thursday, 10th January 2019, 1:24 pm
The case was heard at Teesside Crown Court.
The case was heard at Teesside Crown Court.

Andrew Grayson, 34, who runs a car wash and valeting business in Hartlepool, had been growing the plants for two years and was just weeks off harvesting a crop worth £24,000.

The discovery of 44 plants led to an investigation by social services who decided that the children had not been in danger, Teesside Crown Court was told.

Grayson and his partner Billy Jo Keers, 36, who admitted permitting premises to be used for cannabis production, now face a Proceeds of Crime confiscation case in June.

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Prosecutor Penny Bottomley said Grayson was in the passenger seat of a car stopped by police in Winterbottom Avenue, Hartlepool, on January 17, 2017, who noticed a strong smell of cannabis.

Asked if there was anything in the car that should not be there he said that there was a bag of cannabis in the glove compartment and £8,000.

His home in Barkers Place, Hartlepool, was searched and the cannabis plants were found upstairs.

The yield was estimated at 2.40 kilos ready to harvest in three or four weeks valued at £24,000, and his mobile phone held text messages suggesting street dealing between November 2015 and 2017.

He had a conviction from February 2016 for driving under the influence of drugs.

Stephen Constantine, defending, said Grayson employed four people in his car wash and valeting business and he planned to take on more workers because it was doing well.

Grayson began growing cannabis to cut the cost of his own addiction, and he accepted that he sold some to friends and associates.

Aisha Wadoodi, defending Keers, said that she was unable to work because of ill health and he was the dominant partner in the relationship.

Judge Stephen Ashurst told Grayson: "You acknowledge that it had been going on for getting on for two years before the police came across your car and the enquiries were extended to your home.

"It seems to me that you were keeping your activities away from the prying eyes of the authorities.

"The court is aware of the impact that the growing of cannabis plants has not only in Hartlepool but in other parts of the country where cannabis plants are recovered."

Grayson was jailed for 12 months after he pleaded guilty to possession with intent to supply cannabis, production of cannabis and possession of a knife.

Keers, also of Barkers Place, Hartlepool, was given a 12 months community order with 32 days rehabilitation requirements after she pleaded guilty to permitting premises to be used for the production of cannabis.

The judge said that he accepted that she may not have known the scale of the operation, but she was bringing up six children in the house.