A CONVICTED pimp became involved with a huge cannabis farm - to pay off his confiscation order from his earlier seedy activities.
James Anthony was jailed six years ago for 12 months for running a brothel - for the second time - and ordered to pay back £32,000 proceeds of crime.
But a court heard on Monday, September 6 that he still had £6,500 to pay back and so agreed to help with a cannabis farm including leasing an industrial unit - using the name of his bouncy castle hire business - to house the illegal production and acting as the janitor.
Putting him behind bars for 38 months earlier this week, Judge David Potter said, “You took to crime to pay the proceeds of crime.”
He pointed out that the crop seized was worth about £400,000 but the enterprise involved a rolling production.
Anthony, 72, appeared in the dock at Liverpool Crown Court alongside accomplice Leon Single, a convicted paedophile from Southport, and they both pleaded guilty to producing cannabis. Single admitted he had been acting as a gardener.
Anthony, of Vyner Close, Prenton, Wirral, also admitted possessing cannabis with intent to supply.
The court heard that at the time of the offences 47-year-old Single had an eight month suspended sentence hanging over him for breaching a Sexual Harm Prevention Order.
Cheryl Mottram, prosecuting, told the court that police were called to Lodwick Street, Bootle on the evening of October 13, 2019 after reports of two men wearing balaclavas.
“Officers arrived and after smelling cannabis emanating from a nearby industrial unit went to investigate. It was a large sophisticated cannabis farm.”
Miss Mottram said that the potential yield of the cannabis plants was 20 kilos which was worth up to £443,000. When Anthony’s home was searched cannabis worth £24,100 was found.
The owner of the industrial unit confirmed that it had been leased to Anthony in the name Open Air Leisure Wirral and gloves with DNA matching Single, of Scarisbrick Avenue, Southport was found. Both defendants made no comment when interviewed.
The court heard that Anthony’s previous convictions included conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.
Charles Lander, defending, said that Anthony, who admitted he had been the janitor of the cannabis farm, looks after his 95-year-old aunt and his main concerns were for her.
He had taken out the lease on the premises but they took a while for cannabis to be produced and “irony of ironies” they could then not sell the crop as there had been a fire.
He said Anthony had “effectively been robbing Peter to pay Paul” as he committed the offences to pay off his old Proceeds of Crime payment.
Mark Phillips, defending, said that Single, formerly of Rock Park, Rock Ferry, Wirral, had not got involved just to make money. He had been short of friends and company after being ostracised following his earlier offences and he could not find work and so got involved in the enterprise.
“He is remorseful and wants to change his life. He wants to work but finding work is difficult.”
However Judge Potter sentenced him to a total of 12 months including activating four months to the suspended sentence.
Anthony is to face new POCA proceedings in December.