Wednesday, 25 November 2015

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Carlisle cannabis factory man may be forced to sell house

A manN who turned two bedrooms of his Carlisle home into a “sophisticated cannabis factory” could be forced to sell his house to repay the profits.

Judge Peter Hughes photo
Judge Peter Hughes

Morelli Seminara, 41, was caught growing 36 plants – with a potential yield of around £14,000 – when police raided his former council house in Borland Avenue, Botcherby, on October 18 last year.

The father-of-two, who works as a pipe-fitter during the week and as a rail contractor at weekends, pleaded guilty to producing the banned class B drug.

He was given a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, but not ordered to do any unpaid community work because the judge did not want to interfere with the hard-working life he already has.

But, the court heard, a much tougher punishment might lie in store for Seminara when he appears later in the year at a Proceeds of Crime hearing, at which he will be made to hand back any money he made.

Then, his barrister David Pojur said, he could have sell his house if he is made to pay the full £14,000 the cannabis plants were reckoned to have been worth.

“It would be devastating if he lost his house,” he said.

The court heard that Seminara, who had previous convictions for drugs offences, set up the cannabis factory under lights, heaters and an automated watering system after being bullied into it by “acquaintances” whom he refused to name.

His friends contributed to the electricity bills.

He had told a probation officer that he felt “stupid and naïve” and was “glad to be rid” of the people he had been involved with.

Passing sentence, Judge Peter Hughes QC told Seminara it was “really very sad” to see a man like him – who had “pulled himself up by his bootstraps” and managed to turn his back on crime for many years – back in court for such an offence.

“No doubt there are other people who were involved with you, who would collect the crop and then pass it on,” he said.

The judge said he had intended to fine Seminara £5,000 until discovering he was not allowed to do so while a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing was in the offing.

Even so, the judge told Seminara “the likelihood is that you will be substantially stripped of any profit you have made from this trade and required to pay back anything you have made from it.”


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