Devon

Barnstaple 'cannabis factory' furniture shop owner jailed

Anthony Scouler Image copyright Devon and Cornwall Police
Image caption Scouler used fake identities to get credit cards to pay for high-tech growing equipment

A shop owner who turned his failing business into a cannabis factory has been jailed for four-and-a-half years.

Anthony Scouler, 55, used seven bank accounts to hide profits of more than £100,000, Exeter Crown Court heard.

He also used fake identities to get credit cards to pay for high-tech growing equipment.

Scouler of Barton Road in Bideford, Devon, admitted supply, production and personal possession of cannabis and having a shotgun without a certificate.

He denied money laundering but was found guilty of eight out of 14 counts by a jury at Exeter Crown Court in February.

'Three crops a year'

Police raided his furniture shop in Boutport Street, Barnstaple, in 2012 and found 112 plants.

Recorder Michael Fitton said Scouler had grown cannabis on a "moderate but commercial scale...producing two or three crops a year" from 2010.

"You had a significant role. It may be you had the guidance of others and were doing this at the invitation of others but it was your enterprise under your control," he said.

"I also have to have regard for the dishonesty, the abstraction of electricity, the fraud and the use of specialist equipment. I accept you were of good character and under financial pressure."

Mr Richard Crabb, defending, said Scouler had been drawn into growing drugs by others as the result of financial problems caused by his business failing during the recession.

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