Prison for drug gang who grew hundreds of cannabis plants

JAILED From left, James Plunkett, his brother Daniel and Neil Brooks
JAILED From left, James Plunkett, his brother Daniel and Neil Brooks
Swansea City Centre. Credit: Wiki Commons (Labelled for reuse)

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A JUDGE has hit out at the ‘brass neck and stupidity’ of a gang who saw their cannabis factory raided by police – and simply went on to set up another one.

Brothers James and Daniel Plunkett have been jailed for a total of 13 years after they grew hundreds of cannabis plants at an abandoned property in Hayling Island and then at a house in Portsmouth.

A third man, their friend Neil Brooks, who acted as a gardener and helped with the set-up of the nurseries, has been jailed for three-and-a-half-years.

At the sophisticated set-up at Yacht Haven in Hayling Island, police found 600 cannabis plants, two electricity generators and a shotgun.

When officers raided the building, after a tip-off from the public, they caught James Plunkett and Brooks dismantling the factory.

Daniel Plunkett managed to get away.

The two men were later released on police bail and, undeterred by the bust of that factory, simply moved the operation to Daniel Plunkett’s home in Peronne Close, Hilsea, Portsmouth.

But when police found DNA linking the men to the building in Hayling Island they raided Plunkett’s home and found another 740 plants. When they searched James Plunkett’s house nearby they found a book entitled How to Grow Cannabis. The two factories together would have grown £500,000 worth of cannabis a year.

Jailing the men, Judge Roger Hetherington said the two brothers had been managers of the drug factory which had been started and funded by unknown people, and Brooks had been a gardener.

He said: ‘All three of you were involved in a highly sophisticated and large-scale operation, organised originally by others, which was producing cannabis on an extensive level.

‘Two of you were in fact caught red-handed and you, Daniel Plunkett, managed to escape but would have been aware that the premises had been rumbled.

‘But then with quite extraordinary stupidity and a brass neck you then decide that you will do precisely the same in a house owned by one of you. I really do think that is quite extraordinary. You really can’t expect much sympathy from the court when you do that.’

James Plunkett, 32, and Daniel Plunkett, 26, of different addresses in Peronne Close, pleaded guilty to two charges of producing a class B drug between February and October 2009.

James Plunkett also admitted possessing a firearm without a certificate. He was jailed for seven years and his brother received six.

Brooks, 41, of Howard Road, Hilsea, admitted two charges of producing a class B drug.

Christopher Stimpson, defending James Plunkett, said: ‘Your honour says brass neck, I would say stupidity.’