Solihull man gained £230k from cannabis factory at his business premises - The Solihull Observer

Solihull man gained £230k from cannabis factory at his business premises

A SOLIHULL man lived the high life after set up a sophisticated cannabis factory at his firm’s premises when his electrical business fell on hard times.

But despite having a ‘benefit’ from his illegal operation of more than £230,000, a judge has heard that Mark Insall has no available assets that can be seized.

Nor does his brother Carl, who helped out at the unit and was also growing some plants of his own at his home, the judge at Warwick Crown Court was told.

Earlier this year Mark Insall (28) of Waterside Heights, Waterside, Shirley, Solihull, was jailed for 30 months after pleading guilty to producing cannabis and abstracting electricity.

And Carl (33) of Crossfields Road, Stechford, Birmingham, who admitted two charges of producing cannabis, was jailed for 22 months.

The court had heard that in June last year the police carried out a search of Mark’s business premises, MJI Electrical at unit 60 on the Coleshill Industrial Estate.

Both brothers were at the unit, which had an office at the front, giving it the appearance of respectability.

But the other five rooms in the single-storey building were being used for cannabis production under a number of powerful growing lights.

To power the equipment, the electricity meter had been bypassed – at an estimated cost to the electric company of £9,145.

One of the rooms was being used as a drying room for the harvested plants, while the other four rooms were fitted with more than 70 growing lights and contained a total of 258 plants.

The estimated minimum yield from the plants when mature would have been around 11.9 kilos, which prosecutor Graeme Simpson said would have a street value of more than £100,000.

Mark told officers that when he had rented the Coleshill unit it had been legitimate, but business declined and he found himself in difficulty, so he had set up the cannabis operation.

Mr Simpson added that at Carl’s home officers found 16 more plants, which he said were for his own use, and he admitted involvement with the larger crop on the basis that he had acted as a ‘gardener’ on one occasion.

An earlier confiscation hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act was adjourned for an investigation into the brothers’ finances.

Prosecuting at the resumed hearing, Graham Russell said Carl’s benefit from the illegal activity was the £131,200 value of the cannabis.

Mark’s benefit was ‘more problematic,’ because as well as the value of the cannabis, a number of unexplained cash deposits had been made into two Lloyds TSB accounts, taking his total benefit to £232,658.

But neither brother had any available assets, so Judge Sally Hancox made confiscation orders under the Proceeds of Crime Act of a nominal £1 from each of them, with a further seven days in prison in default of payment within three months.

Explaining the significance of making such an order, she said: “If there is any change in their financial circumstances in the future, it’s open to the prosecuting authorities to conduct a review and make a further application.”

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