Cannabis dealer caught with shotgun jailed - Houghton Regis

26/08/2015

A Houghton Regis cannabis dealer, who was caught with a sawn-off shotgun, was jailed for 6 years today, Wednesday, 26 August 2015.

John Brooks, aged 23, denied he had the gun to scare off people who might try to rob him of his drugs.

But Judge David Farrell QC told him he did not believe his story that he had had found it in a lay-by and thought it was a replica.

Luton Crown Court heard that police carried out a raid on Brooks' flat in Manning Drive on 12 February this year. They found cannabis plants growing in the living room and bedroom. There were also hydroponics, powerful lighting, insulation on the walls and a water pumping system.

Daniel Siong, prosecuting for Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), said officers found a rounders bat in the hallway. They then searched a cupboard belonging to Brooks at the bottom of the flat stairs and discovered the gun in two parts wrapped in three plastic bags. Brooks' fingerprints were on the bags. When it was examined, an expert found it could be fired. Scales were also seized and messages found on his mobile phone indicated he was dealing cannabis. The plants would have yielded cannabis with a street of £16,460, said Mr Siong.

Brooks pleaded guilty to cultivating cannabis, possessing a prohibited firearm and causing criminal damage to the flat. In 2013 he was sentenced to 21 days for producing a small amount of cannabis.

He gave evidence to the Judge, saying that he had found the gun with other scrap in a lay-by on Caddington Hill whilst out in his van looking for scrap metal in the summer of 2013. He said he thought it was a replica because it had a tag with the words deactivated on it when he found it. Brooks said he had never tried to fire the gun and had not intended to use it to threaten anyone who might be trying to rip him off. He admitted he had posed for photos with firearms but said they were all replicas and he had "been interested in that sort of thing." He said he had smoked cannabis since the age of 13 or 14 and had got into debt. To clear what he owed he said he agreed to grow the drug for somebody else. He would keep a third for himself, he said.

Daniel Darnborough, defending, said no ammunition had been found and that gun was wrapped up in a locked shed and could not easily be collected.

Judge David Farrell QC said he did not believe Brooks' story and Brooks' possession of the gun was "sinister to say the least." He said he had played a significant role in the production of cannabis. The Judge passed the minimum term of 5 years for possessing the prohibited firearm, a further year for growing the cannabis, with a one month concurrent sentence for the criminal damage. He ordered that the gun, the drugs and the drug paraphernalia be destroyed.

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