Couple built cannabis factory to fund Disneyland trip for kids
A COUPLE grew £8,500 of cannabis in their cellar to fund a lavish trip of a lifetime to Disneyland for their children.
Mum-of-four Jennifer Chadwick, 28, had booked the £6,000 trip to Disneyland but did not have the funds to pay for it.
Chadwick's partner Alexander Preston, 26, was behind the scheme, using his building expertise to transform their basement into a sophisticated cannabis factory.
In court, Chadwick wept as she told the judge she had not realised the seriousness of her crime.
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She said: "I didn't know how serious it was. I'm so sorry. If I had known, I would never have done it."
The pair had been forced to cancel an earlier trip to Disneyland after their young son broke his leg and they lost the majority of the holiday cost.
Prosecutor Jharna Jobes said: "Preston admitted they were growing cannabis to pay off debts and fund a trip to Disneyland out of the money.
"Chadwick said it was really down to the defendant Preston but she did, on occasion, water the plants. Preston played a significant role motivated by financial gain."
The couple both pleaded guilty to cultivating cannabis on February 1.
The pair were caught after a police officer attended their home in New Road, Driffield, about another matter and smelt the plants.
Chadwick pretended they had just smoked a joint but confessed when an officer found the padlocked cellar.
The officer found ten plants that were 6ft tall and a number of seedlings.
The plants were sent for forensic testing and it was revealed that instead of producing the usual 40gm of cannabis, the plants generated 100mg of the drug.
The estimated street value of the crop was £8,560.
Judge David Tremberg said: "There are many people in this country, particularly in these troubling economic times, who are struggling financial and whose lives would be made easier by the injection of some easy money.
"Financial difficulties are serious but no excuse for the commission of serious premeditated breaches of the drug laws. You two thought it would be a good idea to make money by producing cannabis for profit."
He said they had taken a risk and would have to face the consequences of their crime.
Judge Tremberg said: "You balanced the risk of getting caught towards the potential of getting away with it and decided to take that risk and now you must pay the price because you have been caught."
He told Preston he has been the "prime mover" in the operation.
"It was your idea, you researched it, you got the equipment and used your skills to set it up," he said. "There was some sophistication to it. You placed it in your cellar intending to avoid detection. You played a significant role and engaged and connived with your co-accused for profit."
He told Chadwick she had a lesser role and had shown remorse. However, he accused her of "playing" with her children's welfare.
He said: "I want you to understand how close you have come to getting locked up and how close you have come to being parted from your children."
Preston, who has two previous convictions for assault and shoplifting, has been jailed for six months.
His barrister Nigel Clive said: "He says the seedlings had been left there to die because his first attempt was unsuccessful.
"He accepts there is a significant amount and he had attempted to value them himself at £9,000.
" He has made a foolish decision to try and put a plaster over his leaking finances which were brought on by the booking of a family holiday to Disneyland.
"This was his idea and his enterprise and his partner was very much led by the hand by him."
The court heard the family have debts of more than £20,000.
Chadwick has been given a three-month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, and a 60-day curfew from 7pm to 7am.
A proceeds of crime hearing has been set for October.
The Crown Prosecution Service will conduct a financial investigation into their assets and could seize their property if it is discovered they have benefited through the proceeds of their criminal activity.