Published: 12:30, 07 March 2018
| Updated: 12:45, 07 March 2018
A former professional boxer and two other men have been jailed after a cannabis factory was discovered at a semi-detached house.
Billy Saunders, a cousin of WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders, was helping run the factory in Park View, Station Road, Edenbridge, with Michael Anderson and Jason Muckley.
Maidstone Crown Court heard police raided the property on January 18 last year and discovered the whole of a flat was given over to producing the drug.
Officers seized 510 mature plants. The electricity meter had been bypassed. The three men were arrested after their fingerprints were found. Saunders’ and Anderson’s DNA was on cigarette butts.
Prosecutor Samantha Wright said Muckley, a 46-year-old alcoholic, had rented the flat using the name of Huckley.
A further 72 plants at various stages of growth were discovered in the loft and a coal bunker at Anderson’s home.
Saunders, of McKillop Way, Sidcup, Anderson, of Hadley Road, Belvedere, South East London, and Muckley, of Mallard Walk, Sidcup, all admitted producing cannabis. Muckley also admitted abstracting electricity.
Saunders was sentenced to 18 months, Anderson to two years and Muckley to 16 months.
Nicolas Maggs, for Saunders, said the father-of-two had five professional fights but was the victim of “serious crime” and had to quit.
Saunders, a 31-year-old roofer, was said to have been paid £50 to deliver items to the property.
“He knew what he was doing,” said Mr Maggs. “He was foolish to involve himself and he faces severe punishment for doing so.
“He didn’t appreciate fully what he was getting into. Someone was going to make some significant money from it.”
Saunders had mental health problems as a result of three attacks on him.
Mary Jacobson, for Anderson who refused to leave prison for the sentencing hearing on Tuesday, said her client had limited involvement, being paid to store equipment.
Anderson, 37, is also facing sentence at the end of the month at Lewes Crown Court for causing grievous bodily harm with intent.
Emin Kandola, for Muckley, said her client had been an alcoholic for much of his life. He was paid £40 a day to “move plants around”.
“He didn’t know what he was doing,” she said. “He was targeted as an alcoholic. A random man approached him and offered him money. He is obviously a yes man. He said yes to everything he was asked to do.”
Judge Martin Huseyin said it was a case of commercial growing of cannabis and there was a suspicion that one or more of the three had a greater role than they admitted.
“You are all mature men and knew what you were getting yourselves into,” he said.
He told Saunders: “You have been the victim of serious crimes which have led to you having serious medical problems. The sentence will be tougher for you than most people.
“I have made a substantial reduction to your sentence because of your personal mitigation.”
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