Sunderland cannabis farm mastermind fails in bid to get sentence reduced

Lee Stokoe
Lee Stokoe

A man caged for "organising and financing" two thriving cannabis farms on Wearside has failed in a bid to get his sentence cut.

Lee Michael Stokoe, 44, played a "leading role" in a conspiracy to cultivate the drug in houses in Houghton and Sunderland.

The operation was busted when cops swooped in December 2012.

Stokoe was linked to those arrested in the raids through mobile phone and other circumstantial evidence.

He was convicted by a jury of conspiracy to produce cannabis.

Stokoe, of Purley, Pattinson, Washington, was caged for six years and nine months at Newcastle Crown Court last year.

He was sentenced on the basis that he was the 'organiser and financier of the cannabis farms.'

Stokoe argued at London's Appeal Court that the judge had been 'misled' about the seniority of his role.

And, even if he was a leader of the plot, he claimed his sentence was far too tough.

But Sir David Maddison, sitting with Mr Justice Spencer and Lady Justice Hallett, threw out his complaints.

The judge said: "Having presided over a long trial, the judge was very well placed to assess the various roles played by the conspirators.

"There was ample evidence on which the judge could form his conclusion. We see no evidence that the judge was misled.

"A sentence of six years nine months is well within the sentencing range appropriate for a person playing a leading role in a conspiracy to produce cannabis on a commercial scale."

Stokoe was also refused permission to appeal against his conviction.