Cannabis-growing ‘anti-drug’ councillor must hand over cash

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A FORMER parish councillor who was jailed for producing cannabis has been ordered to surrender more than £21,000.

Stephen Crowther, 57, was sentenced to 15 months in jail in February, after police discovered 123 plants worth nearly £7,000 in a unit he rented opposite his haulage business.

They also found evidence that another of his buildings, a remote former telephone exchange, was being prepared to act as a second factory.

Recorder Peter Pimm, sitting at Hull Crown Court, has now ruled that Crowther, who claimed he was “anti-drugs”, should hand over £21,588. He has to pay the money within six months or face 12 months in jail.

Crowther was a parish councillor in Flamborough, on Yorkshire’s East Coast, and described himself as a “role model” for youngsters during a hearing last October. He said: “The last thing I want to do is get involved in drugs. I’m a parish councillor, started a youth committee and was always a role model.”

He claimed he had discovered the drugs factory before the police raid on December 15 2009, but had not called officers immediately because he feared “reprisals” from gipsies at the site.

But Judge Richardson QC “comprehensively rejected his account”. The QC said: “You told a catalogue of lies with a nauseating and quite breathtaking hypocrisy. Your hypocrisy is demonstrated by your comments that you were a role model for young children in the community, when you were a participant in a cannabis factory in the area where you were a parish councillor.”

Crowther admitted a charge of being concerned in the production of a class B drug on the day his trial was due to start last October, but then faced a trial of issue where he had to prove his claims that he had no knowledge of the crime.