Businessman faces jail over £780k bill for cannabis factory hidden in hay
A PROPERTY developer who made his £1m fortune through crime could be jailed for failing to pay back his ill-gotten gains.
Joseph Kelly was jailed for producing £12,700 of cannabis last year but, under the Proceeds of Crime Act, he is being forced to pay back more than 60 times that amount.
He was given six months to pay back £784,471.92 or face four years in jail.
Now, his legal team is asking for an extension to give him more time to pay it back after he failed to make enough payments.
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Judge Simon Jack gave him 28 days before he is jailed to prove he had tried to obtain a remortgage, enabling him to repay the money.
Judge Jack said: "The economic climate means it is difficult to obtain lending and to sell property.
"These are very difficult times to raise money and it is a lot of money. But I am concerned very little seems to have been done.
"If he cannot produce evidence then I'm inclined to say it is not exceptional circumstances and the default period should take effect."
Kelly and his sister Debra turned a shipping container on farmland next to her home in Sunk Island Road, Ottringham, into a drugs factory.
They hid the operation behind bales of hay and straw, covered with tarpaulin.
The repayment order was made last August and is the largest confiscation order Humberside Police has ever made under the act.
He has only paid back £9,000 so far from the sale of his Chrysler 300, his personalised number plate and a boom trike.
The seizure of assets follows a police investigation into his finances over the past six years.
Despite his vast fortune, Kelly had only legitimately earned £24,000 over two years, for a cleaning job.
In the same period, he had bought houses to rent in Goole and land in Holderness.
His bank accounts revealed hundreds of cash payments, yet he could not legitimately account for them.
After the order was made, Kelly claimed he has been unable to obtain a mortgage from any bank to remortgage his home to free up the money to pay the proceeds of crime money.
Kelly's barrister Mark McKone said: "The Crown Prosecution Service submits this is not an exceptional case but the defence does apply for a further six months in order to raise the money.
"The defendant wishes to satisfy the order by way of remortgaging his properties but that has not proved possible.
"Despite some attempts, the defendant realises he will not get a remortgage to satisfy the money and is going to have to sell his properties.
"His concern is, if he proceeds to sale, he might not get what he believes the properties are worth and he might have inadequate funds. He recognises that is the only option left."
The judge has ordered him to produce evidence of his attempts to obtain a mortgage within a month or face jail.