Drug grower fails in appeal to cut sentence


A “vulnerable” cannabis farmer whose attempts to set up a narcotics factory in Sutton failed after it was taken over by a gang of professional villains has failed to persuade top judges his sentence was too harsh.

Lee Daniel Hufton (25), cooked up a plan to grow cannabis in a house he rented in Outram Street after he accumulated heavy debts, London’s Appeal Court was told.

Judge Martyn Zeidman QC, who described Hufton as “vulnerable”, said the rented house ended up being “taken over by more sophisticated operators”, who crammed much of the property with potent cannabis plants, with a potential street value of £135,000.

There were nearly 150 plants in the house - but only 30 of these had been cultivated by Hufton.

Hufton, of Fisher Street, Kirkby, was jailed for two years at Nottingham Crown Court in March after he admitted producing cannabis and allowing premises to be used for cultivating drugs.

Judge Zeidman said Hufton had set up his cannabis farm for “personal use, supply and for financial gain”.

“Word got out” that Hufton was growing his own, said the judge, and other dealers muscled in to “take over the house”.

Hufton abandoned the property after just one month.

His case reached the Appeal Court as Hufton challenged his two-year term with claims that it was too severe.

Judge Zeidman, sitting with Lord Justice Davis and Mr Justice Hamblen, said Hufton had been part of the drugs gang, adding: “

He was towards the bottom end, but far from being a gardener”.

His total sentence “could not be regarded as manifestly excessive”, the judge ruled, dismissing Hufton’s appeal.

“The sentencing judge had full regard to his vulnerability and limited role in the organization,” he concluded.