Lawyers to pay cannabis farmer’s £1 confiscation order

Teesside Crown Court
Teesside Crown Court

A DRUG farmer’s solicitors are to settle a court order for just £1 in an unusual move.

Stephen Keers, 34, from Hartlepool, was convicted at Teesside Crown Court for growing cannabis back in October 2012.

He avoided prison for the offence when he was sentenced to 10 months jail suspended for two years with supervision and a curfew.

The Crown Prosecution Service also launched a Proceeds of Crime confiscation case against him in a bid to discover how much he stood to gain from his crime and if he had any assets to pay back to the authorities.

At the confiscation hearing, prosecutor David Crook told a judge that the Crown and Keers’s legal team had agreed that he stood to benefit by £8,390.

A nominal confiscation order of just £1 was made against Keers because the court heard he had no realisable assets.

But Keers’s lawyer Ian Mullarkey said Keers’s solicitors would settle the bill saying “it will be much easier” than trying to get the money from him.

Keers, of Baden Street, Hartlepool, was not at court for the hearing.

Mr Mullarkey told the judge: “Those instructing me will make the payment.

“It would be much simpler than trying to get it off Mr Keers.

“So the Crown will get their pound.”

Judge Howard Crowson entered into the spirit of the settlement saying: “The payment is due within 14 days and the penalty is one day in custody.”

Keers’s solicitors are town firm Donnelly, McArdle and Adamson.

The aim of confiscation orders is to deprive criminals of the proceeds of their illegal activities.

They are paid to the Crown Prosecution Service, normally by the defendant, after a ruling by a judge.

The order remains in force until it is paid and compulsory enforcement action can be taken if they fail to pay the order, .

All confiscation order payments go to the Treasury.

A similar confiscation order for just £1 was made against Matthew Evans, 28, of West View Road, Hartlepool, recently after he grew cannabis worth more than £16,000.

He was given 12 months prison suspended for 18 months after admitting producing a Class B drug last February.