Stevenage cannabis factory: man jailed

A MAN who used a Stevenage industrial unit as a cannabis factory has been jailed for more than three years.

Jamie Roberts was also ordered to pay the authorities �225,000.

The 48-year-old from Abel Close, Hemel Hempstead was charged with cultivating cannabis after Hertfordshire officers raided an industrial unit in Whittle Way, Stevenage, on April 12, 2011.

The officers had arrived at the premises armed with a search warrant but a vehicle was parked outside when they arrived.

As they approached, Roberts exited the unit.

The officers told Roberts they had come to execute a warrant for suspected cannabis and he responded saying there were two other men inside.

On entering, officers found the unit had been adapted into a hydroponics factory with modifications made to the electrical supply.

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Approximately one thousand cannabis plants in various stages of growth were found.

Two other men, Thong Van Hoang, 58, of no fixed abode, and Sonvan Tran, 40, also of no fixed abode, were arrested inside the property.

They were also convicted at Cambridge Crown Court last year of cultivating cannabis and both received 18 months imprisonment each.

The judge heard that Roberts is believed to have earned around �725,000 from his illegal activities but only has �225,000 in assets, which he must hand over within six months. If he fails to pay this money within six months, he will receive an additional 30 months in jail and still be liable for the payment.

The rest of the �500,000 debt to the authorities remains outstanding and the judge ruled that if Roberts comes into money by any means, he is still liable to repay the entire amount for the rest of his life.