Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Calne drug farm pair want cash back (From This Is Wiltshire)

Calne drug farm pair want cash back

Two men who were ordered to pay £200,000 after their cannabis farm in Calne was uncovered are trying to get the money back as they claim it violates their human rights.

Richard Lambert, 57, and Ian Walding, 45, admitted producing cannabis after a 400-plant farm on the Porte Marsh Industrial Estate was rumbled in September 2008.

Lambert, of Oakdale, Welwyn Gar-den City, and Walding, of Hinton Parva, near Swindon, were jailed for 27 months at Swindon Crown Court in 2010.

After handing out the jail terms, the trial judge made confiscation orders in the sum of £107,860 – and ordered both men to pay that amount.

Lawyers for the men now claim any profits would have been divided between them and others involved, and it is therefore unfair and disproportionate to demand that each of them pay the full amount.

Edward Fitzgerald QC said the confiscation orders interfered with the men’s right to “peaceful enjoyment of property”, under the European Convention on Human Rights.

He told judges: “The purpose [of the law] was to remove the actual profits and to take them out of circulation, it was not intended to operate as a new form of sentence, whereby you can take ten-fold from those who commit such offences, nor was it meant to operate as a fine.

“It has never been a principle in English courts that deterrence knows no bounds, otherwise we would just go and chop people’s hands off.”

But Simon Farrell QC, for the Crown, insisted the confiscations were fair because both men had the means to pay the orders, which sent out a message to other would-be crooks.

He told the court: “Some people would say it is perfectly fair that people who engage in running drugs factories, making vast profits, deserve to be very severely deterred. They need to know they could lose all their assets.

“In this case, the defendants did not even lose all of their assets. Each defendant had more assets than the cannabis farm.”

Recognising the importance of the case, Lord Justice Pill, Mr Justice Treacy and Mr Justice Kenneth Parker reserved their judgment, which will be given at an unspecified future date.