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West Midlands £1 million cannabis gang jailed for more than 11 years

Wolverhampton | News | Published:

Five men behind a £1 million cannabis farm have been handed jail sentences totalling more than 11 years.

A woman constable narrowly escaped injury when she was showered in a sulphur-type substance while opening a door during a search of the Black Country industrial unit where the cannabis plants were being grown.

She had to remove clothing soaked by the suspected booby trap, which missed her face but left her badly shaken, Wolverhampton Crown Court heard.

Four men were arrested at the scene and a fifth – James Caughey, aged 26, who rented the unit – was arrested two months later.

The self-employed builder had a chaotic lifestyle and was £25,000 in debt with loans and credit card bills to pay, the court was told. All five defendants got involved in the operation because they were short of money.

More than 1,000 plants were under cultivation in a building which had been secretly constructed inside the £1,700-a-month unit on the Bluebird industrial estate in Park Lane, Fallings Park.

A police expert estimated that the 518 plants which were nearing full growth were capable of producing enough cannabis for £375,000 worth of street deals, said Mr Jonathan Veasey-Pugh, prosecuting.

With three crops a year that meant the skunk farm was capable of growing cannabis valued at more than £1m annually. The gang had been renting the premises since September 2014.

All the defendants admitted producing cannabis. Recorder Jason MacAdam said: "This was a commercial organisation capable of creating great profits. You probably did not fund it entirely by yourselves because of your financial situation, but you have all candidly admitted that you wanted to make money."

James Caughey, of Stratford Road, Hall Green, was jailed for three years; Eamonn Caughey, 27, of Greenwood Avenue, Acocks Green, and Shane Hawkins, 25, of Hattersley Grove, Tyseley, each received two years four months. Damion Clabby, 32, of Northanger Road, Acocks Green, got two years, while Ben Johnson, 26, of Maxfield Road, Tyseley, was sentenced to 20 months

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