Motor repair boss David Collier, aged 70, harvested crops under the noses of his family and colleagues for more than four years
A granddad has been jailed for growing cannabis worth £1million at a farm and in his car repair garage.
David Collier, aged 70, harvested crops under the noses of his family and colleagues for more than four years, a court heard.
Collier grew vegetables at the farm where he lived before he started to grow the drug in a shed to alleviate his arthritis.
He also had a portable cabin with 71 cannabis plants at his family business, AJ Motors in Plympton, Plymouth Crown Court heard.
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The drugs were then sold as part of a commercial operation, with a potential street value over the years of £1million.
But police accept that Collier was paid far less than that at a wholesale price before others sold it on the street.
Jailing him for three years and four months, Judge Paul Darlow said: “Over about four years you ran a relatively sophisticated operation producing commercial quantities of cannabis. I am going to keep this as short as I possibly can.”
Green-fingered David Collier, aged 70, turned from growing veg to cultivating cannabis (Image: Devon and Cornwall Police)
Collier, of Drakelands near Lee Moor, pleaded guilty to two counts of producing a Class B controlled drug on different dates between 2011 and 2016.
Smartly dressed in a blazer and tie, he changed his pleas on the eve of his trial. He continues to deny two counts of supplying cannabis – charges which have been left on the file.
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Julia Cox, for the Crown Prosecution Service, said police who raided AJ Motors in Market Road in May 2016 smelt the scent of cannabis coming from a portable cabin.
She added that officers forced the door and found a cabinet containing 71 cannabis plants inside.
The crop of cannabis found by officers at AJ Motors (Image: Devon and Cornwall Police)
Miss Cox said: “Officers found a sophisticated, well-planned cannabis grow with a hydroponic and light system.”
She added that old plants showed that at least one previous crop had been grown.
Miss Cox said the drugs had a wholesale value of between £19,000 and £23,000 but a street value of between £43,000 and £51,000.
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The barrister added that police then searched Broomage Farm at Drakelands and found two sheds given over to cannabis production – though there were no crops.
Miss Cox said police found a list of weights of different crops grown since 2011.
She added that the estimated street value of the cannabis came to just over £1million.
Plants in various stages of growth found at AJ Motors (Image: Devon and Cornwall Police)
Miss Cox said that Collier made £68,000 from selling the drugs over the years – which Judge Darlow ordered to be seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Ali Rafati, for Collier, said the garage boss started growing cannabis to help him with arthritis.
He added that the defendant genuinely used the farm to grow vegetables with his wife, but then he alone experimented with growing some of the drug.
Mr Rafati said: “The quantities escalated and there was a financial element which was attractive when his business was not doing so well.”
The set-up at AJ Motors (Image: Devon and Cornwall Police)
Mr Rafati said Collier had been married three times and had four children and eight grandchildren.
The barrister said he had been in the motor trade for all his life and had built up AJ Motors with his son and they now employed seven people.
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Mr Rafati said: “He is ashamed of what he has done. The family became aware of what he had done when the police conducted those raids.”