Page last updated at 17:21 GMT, Friday, 6 March 2009

Man jailed over 1m cannabis farm

Leyakt Sajawal
Sajawal was in financial trouble

A businessman who turned disused probation offices in Middlesbrough into a 1m cannabis farm has been jailed for four and a half years.

The aroma of the 4,800 plants at the Longlands offices was so strong that they could be smelled in the street, Teesside Crown Court heard.

The farm was linked to others in Huddersfield and Sheffield.

Leyakt Sajawal, 35, of St Lawrence Glebe, in Sheffield, admitted conspiring to produce cannabis.

The hearing heard how Sajawal was in financial trouble after remortgaging his string of shops during a business slump.

He decided to turn his shops in Huddersfield and Sheffield into cannabis farms and he claimed he was a consultant on the probation offices redevelopment project in Middlesbrough.

The farm was discovered when police stopped a car carrying boxes of skunk seedlings, lighting equipment and two illegal Chinese immigrant gardeners heading to Middlesbrough.

Longer sentences

Prosecutor Sarah Mallett said: "He was linked to all of the cannabis farms, and we say that he was the most heavily involved."

His father left the family a large property empire, and Sajawal felt that he had brought shame on them when his businesses hit hard times, Osma Daneshyar defending, said.

Judge Peter Armstrong told Sajawal that he went into the venture with his eyes open and became substantially involved.

Judge Armstrong said: "Those who manage properties, organise the setting-up or them are more seriously responsible, and have to suffer considerably longer sentences."

Six other men have already been sentenced to up to three and a half years for offences relating to the cannabis farms.

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