A couple used a secret door linking their two attics together to run a large scale cannabis farm.
When police raided the homes of Jamie Fahy, 38, and Donna Jones, 41, they found 135 cannabis plants with a potential street value of £170,100. Liverpool Crown Court heard on Monday, May 16, how the cannabis was being grown for “onward wholesale supply” and there were incriminating messages on their mobile showing the sophisticated enterprise.
Jones’ meter was by-passed to power the operation and £239,000 worth of electricity had been illegally used over the eight months before the raid. But a judge let both Fahy and Jones walk free from the dock.
Nardeen Nemat, prosecuting, had told the court police armed with a drugs warrant raided Fahy’s home in Linner Road, Speke, on January 18 last year. A total of 98 mature cannabis plants were found in three bedrooms and the attic.
Ms Nemat said: “They found a hidden door in the panelling which allowed a person to crawl through to next door. The couple were in a relationship at the time.”
Police officers went round to Jones’s home and found the electricity meter had been by-passed and there were 53 cannabis plants in her attic. The couple’s mobile phones were seized and there were messages on them in respect of both supply and production.
They were consistent with people working for them, said Miss Nemat. When interviewed Jones, a mum-of-two adult sons, said she had paid someone £80 to bridge her electricity meter eight months earlier as she had a catalogue of debts.
She claimed the attic door was jammed shut and she knew nothing about cannabis production going on. Fahy admitted accessing her attic through the door but answered no other questions.
They both pleaded guilty to producing cannabis and abstracting electricity. Ken Heckle, defending, said that Fahy, who has 11 previous convictions though none for drugs, cares for his sick mother and there are no other relatives who can assist.
Mr Heckle said: “He has put himself and his mother in that position and no-one else. Perhaps he does not have consequential thinking about what he got into.”
He had worked most of his life but was then made redundant and started using cocaine. Mr Heckle said that “he was refreshingly honest and said he was in debt for drugs and the only way that he could get out of it was to start growing cannabis.”
Jones’s lawyer Matthew O’Neill said she committed the offices “to pay off debts. She was in rent arrears and had high interest loans and she decided in tandem with her co-defendant to produce this amount of cannabis.” She had single-handedly brought up her two sons and if jailed she would lose the accommodation she shares with them.
She has no previous convictions and was subjected to domestic violence which affected her mental health. She uses cocaine recreationally and does not believe she needs intervention in relation to that, said Mr O’Neill.
Sentencing both defendants to two years imprisonment suspended for two years the judge, Recorder Michael Blakey said that they had both played “a significant role.” He continued: “Looking at the case overall it is a just and appropriate sentence for you two.”
He said that he also took into account guidance about taking into consideration conditions in prison because of Covid restrictions. He ordered them both carry out 100 hours unpaid work and a six months drugs rehabilitation course.
Recorder Blakey said he took into account medical difficulties of Fahy and his mother and that he has been out of trouble for eight years. He told Jones he took into account that she would lose her home if sent straight to prison.
He said: “A realistic prospect of rehabilitation is something I accept is quite probable. You both have strong personal mitigation and it seems to me immediate custody would result in a harmful effect on others.”