Convicted drug farmer's pension is confiscated in district first (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Convicted drug farmer's pension is confiscated in district first
A convicted drug farmer who grew more than 600 cannabis plants in a rented home near Keighley is the first in Bradford district to have his pension seized to pay back his ill-gotten gains.
Benedict McDonnell, 62, was told at a Proceeds of Crime hearing at Bradford Crown Court that he would have to sign over his pension and a car to pay back £11,604.94 to West Yorkshire Police.
A police spokesman yesterday said McDonnell, who was convicted of cultivating cannabis, possession with intent to supply and dishonestly using electricity, was believed to be the first in the district to have his pension confiscated.
Detective Sergeant Dave Marston of Airedale and North Bradford Proceeds of Crime Team warned other criminals that the force would pursue them “by whatever means necessary” to claw back profits made through crime.
Police discovered the cannabis farm after visiting the house in Riddlesden to arrest McDonnell for an offence committed in Lancashire, for which he was never charged.
McDonnell said he had been tending the plants in exchange for being allowed to stay at the house, but admitted the charges.
He was given a six-month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months and was told to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work when he was convicted at Bradford Crown Court on April 18. He was also made the subject of an electronic curfew.
At his proceeds of crime hearing at the crown court on Friday, the judge made an order under the Proceeds of Crime Act to seize his pension and car.
His former landlord – who rented out the property to McDonnell without realising his tenant was using the house to grow drugs – said he had caused £15,000 worth of damage bypassing the electricity and growing the drug. “It was completely trashed. You couldn’t live in there,” said the landlord, who did not want to be named.
He said he had been unable to rent out the house for a year while renovations were carried out. He said he has yet to receive compensation.
To report criminals benefiting from crime proceeds, contact the Why Should They? campaign on 0800 555 111.