Walsall woman turned six-bed house with pool and gym into cannabis farm
A Walsall businesswoman who played a leading role in setting up a large-scale cannabis operation in a rented mansion has been saved from prison – for the sake of her children.
And because Lisa Scotney narrowly escaped being jailed, two men who were involved in the operation with her also avoided custody when they appeared at Warwick Crown Court.
Prosecutor Tariq Shakoor said 55-year-old Scotney financed the cannabis operation, and that she and Birmingham man Shaun Wilkinson played significant parts in organising it.
Meanwhile Edward Ambrozewicz, from Willenhall, had expertise in cultivating cannabis – with four previous convictions for doing so.
11 acres of grounds
The court heard that Heathfield Farm in Hockley Heath, near Solihull, was a six-bedroom house which had 11 acres of grounds and facilities including an indoor swimming pool and a gym, and was accessed through electronic gates.
It was being rented out by a letting agency who were contacted in July 2016 by Wilkinson who expressed an interest in it, and a rent of £3,750 a month was agreed, with a deposit of £4,250 being paid.
“From that date, or very soon after, the production of cannabis was taking place. Texts showed it was already being grown in October 2016.”
All three defendants were at the farmhouse when the police raided it in March 2017, forcing entry through the gates, and found a large number of cannabis plants.
In the garage there were growing tents containing 40 plants which were about ten weeks from being ready to harvest, 21 root balls from a previous crop, as well as heating and lighting equipment and bags of fertiliser.
There were more plants in a gym, kitchen and bedroom.
'Not a factory'
Sentencing the three, Recorder Kenneth Carr said: “It is quite clear the defendants in this case were not going to be selling the cannabis themselves on the street.
“The operation, in my view, is a moderately large one, it’s not a factory, but nor is it a spare bedroom in a house.”
Scotney, 55, of Broadway North, Walsall; Wilkinson, 50, of City Heights, Snow Hill, Birmingham; and Ambrozewicz, 55, of Roebuck Glade, Willenhall, had all pleaded guilty to conspiring to produce cannabis.
Scotney was sentenced to two years in prison suspended for two years, and Wilkinson to 18 months suspended for two years, with each of them being ordered to do 240 hours of unpaid work.
Ambrozewicz, who had played "the least significant role" but was subject to a suspended sentence for growing cannabis at the time, was sentenced to 21 months suspended for two years, with 100 hours of unpaid work and a rehabilitation activity.
The judge told Scotney and Wilkinson: “Both of you were intimately involved in the setting up of this operation and in the day-to-day running of it.
“This was a thoroughly criminal course which you both enthusiastically joined in. You both played leading roles.”
He said Scotney would have got an immediate 27-month sentence, but for the long delay and her "very bright" eight-year-old twins, adding: “You have been anxiously waiting to see what is going to happen to you, and therefore to your children.”
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