Cannabis factory councillor jailed

Steven Crowther at Hull Crown Court last Friday
Steven Crowther at Hull Crown Court last Friday

A PARISH councillor was handed a 15-month jail sentence for his part in a drugs factory, which a court heard he was planning to expand to Market Weighton.

Stephen Crowther pleaded guilty to being involved in the production of cannabis in September of last year.

The 55-year-old had initially told police that he did not known about the factory just yards from his former shop in Flamborough.

When police raided the premises in December 2009 they found lighting and heating equipment and 123 plants with a street value of over £6,000.

He had rented out the industrial unit but claimed he knew nothing of the illegal operation being carried out there.

However, it was heard that Crowther’s van, which contained 14 cannabis plants, was discovered abandoned some miles away.

A former electricity substation at Arras Hill near Market Weighton, which Crowther owned and had rented to the same man as the unit in Flamborough, was also discovered.

It contained shelving and duct tape that he admitted could be used in growing cannabis.

When he was first quizzed by police, he admitted he knew about the operation but had only found out two days before the raid and did not contact police for fear of reprisals.

He said he had let the unit to a gypsy called John to carry out work on a car and was going to smelt lead into ingots at Arras Hill.

He claimed he never received a penny from John who he allowed to live at Market Weighton.

Crowther, who resigned from his position on Flamborough Parish Council after a previous hearing, denied his part - at first claiming he was an anti-drugs role model and that he’d been involved in setting up a youth committee to keep kids on the straight and narrow.

He was told by Judge Jeremy Richardson, QC at a hearing at Hull Crown Court on Friday: “You purported to be anti-drugs in public and yet in private you were involved in cannabis production.

“It was nauseating hypocrisy quite apart from it being a serious crime.

“I have no hesitation in saying your criminality warrants an immediate custodial sentence.

“You have served your community in the past and have let them down badly.

“You have brought shame on your family.

“You have caused that and no one else.

“Those that involve themselves in the cultivation off illegal drugs must expect a custodial sentence of some substance.

“In my judgement this defendant was much more involved than he purports to be.

“He allowed his industrial units to be used to grow cannabis plants and was planning another at Market Weighton.

Later, he added: “It is plain you were planning another plant at Market Weighton.

“You were involved in a significant way.

“You were a pillar of the community as a parish councillor and you started a youth committee in the past.”