Jail for drug farmer

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A BUSINESSMAN who housed a drug farm potentially worth millions has been jailed for six years.

Victor Spencer owned properties at Pearson Industrial Estate, Hetton, where police seized 2.5 kilos of cocaine with an estimated street value of more than £250,000.

Also unearthed was a cannabis farm with 2,500 cannabis plants, which could have yeilded £1.2million and was at the time believed to be the biggest in the North East.

Newcastle Crown Court hear that Spencer, of Hetton, initially bought the properties as a lawful business venture, after he and his wife encountered financial difficulties.

He then employed his soon-to-be accomplice Derrick Woods to work for him in a roofing business, but a cannabis farm was set up at the site, said to have been done without Spencer’s knowledge.

However, the 51-year-old discovered what was occurring under his roof - and instead of stopping it, encorage the venture in the hope of large rewards.

The drugs factory was uncovered in August 2007, when police stopped a Ford Focus travelling from Yorkshire to the North East, and discovered a kilo of high-grade cocaine.

Spencer’s handwriting was matched to a note found in the car, and Woods’ fingerprints were found in the boot and on the note.

After a search warrant was issued in February 2008, which lead to a search of the industrial estate, police uncovered the cocaine and searched Spencer’s home.

When police again targeted the Pearson Industrial Estate, two days later on February 7, they found another man, Christopher Stansfield, in possession of a key which led officers to a sophisticated cannabis factory.

The men were arrested, along with Stansfield, of Hebden Bridge, Halifax, who admitted conspiracy to cultivate cannabis at a later hearing, and was given two years in custody on top of a current prison sentence.

Woods, of Tynedale Street, Hetton, admitted conspiracy to supply cocaine and was jailed for 10 years last May.

Spencer sentencing has been considerably delayed due to a trauma he suffered after his conviction whilst awaiting sentence. The incident which caused it was not disclosed in court.

Defending, Robert Woodcock said Spencer’s disabilities would not stop him serving time in custody.

He said: “It is concluded that the findings of those specialists are such that there is no sustainable argument, it would seem, why a sentence of immediate imprisonment - which is inevitable - could not be performed by the defendant.”