Father and son turned Nutley puppy farm into cannabis factory
A FATHER and son have been sentenced for converting a dog-breeding farm into a huge cannabis factory.
John Moss, 61, turned to growing marijuana because his business had failed, and "dragged" his 39-year-old son Alasdair along with him.
Police discovered hundreds of plants when they raided Wrens Stud, near Nutley, in March last year.
Owner John Moss used the internet to research how to grow the cannabis after building up significant debts from a previous business making horse boxes.
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Officers found the plants being grown in several different buildings at the farm in Down Street, one of which contained a litter of newborn puppies.
On its website, the farm says it also rears horses, ponies and cross-breed dogs, such as Labradoodles, to "excellent health".
In total, police believe the plants could have generated an annual yield of 55 kilos, with a street value of about £510,000.
John Moss was jailed for three years at Brighton Crown Court last Thursday for producing a Class B drug and three counts of converting criminal property.
Alasdair Moss was sentenced to one year in jail, suspended for two years, for the same offences.
The 39-year-old was also electronically tagged and given a six-month curfew between 9pm and 5am each night.
Prosecuting, Warwick Tatford said 776 plants were found at the farm, of which 398 were established and growing in three separate rooms.
"It was clearly a commercial, well-organised cannabis factory," he said. "John Moss made the admissions straight away. He said he learnt to grow the cannabis on the internet and he saw it as a business opportunity."
Mr Tatford said a small building where puppies were being looked after also contained a tent with 16 plants.
The court heard John Moss used his son's credit card to purchase equipment to set up the factory.
"He met somebody in one of the shops where he bought the equipment and agreed a deal of £50 per ounce, which is a lot less than Sussex Police would expect," Mr Tatford added.
"(Alasdair) accepts he went with his father to buy the equipment and they used his credit card to pay for it because he had a clear credit history. His father paid him back with the profits of the cannabis."
Defending, Julian Dale said: "John Moss found himself with very substantial debts. He set this up with the intention of making a substantial amount of money, but he went into it with some degree of naivety.
"The first crop completely failed, but when the second crop came to fruition he was told the quality was not good. It now emerges he was underpaid substantially, but that's his naivety rather than his criminality.
"He has let himself down and it's also sad that he has dragged his son with him."
Judge Paul Tain ordered the seized items to be destroyed.
He said to John Moss: "It's fairly clear you have been a hard-working person who has fallen into a serious crime as a result of the recession hitting your field of work.
"This is skunk cannabis. It is not a drug that has little impact; it's a drug that we see affecting people pretty much every day of the week. It's not something gentle that makes you happy. It renders people psychotic. It damages their lives and in some cases leads them on to Class A drugs, which can kill them."
After the case, DC Emma Flint said: "In some ways it's quite a sad case. The stud itself is run impeccably well and the animals are really well cared for.
"Unfortunately, they came into financial difficulty and John Moss saw an opportunity, and greed got the better of him.
"Cannabis is not an easy or soft drug; there are consequences."