Weston drug dealers must pay back �3,000 or go to jail

DRUG dealers from Weston who set up cannabis factories in the resort must pay back more than �3,000 made from their crimes – or face prison.

In two separate incidents Matthew Culpin, of Careys Way, and Jason Hardwick, of Malvern Road, were arrested for production of cannabis and possessing the class B drug with intent to supply.

The two men, who both pleaded guilty to the charges and were sentenced earlier in the year, appeared at Bristol Crown Court last week and were ordered by the judge to pay back the amount of cash they are thought to have raked in through drug dealing.

Culpin, aged 25, has six months to pay �825 to the court or he will be sent to prison for 28 days and Hardwick, aged 30, has six months to hand over �2,260 or he will be sent to jail for 14 days.

The financial investigation unit manager from Avon and Somerset police, Dr Kirstie Cogram, said: “It is important that criminals realise crime doesn’t pay.

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“When people are convicted for drugs offences this is not the end of it as we will then go to the courts to seize their assets.

“It is not just big sums of money we confiscate – street dealers will often be made to hand over �100 which, while it is not a lot of money, represents everything they have.

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“It sends a strong message that we will not allow people to profit through drugs.”

In June a total of 41 cannabis plants were recovered from Culpin’s garage in various stages of growth, along with cannabis growing equipment.

He received a sentence of 10 months, suspended for two years, 150 hours of unpaid work and a curfew of four months.

Hardwick was sentenced to nine months in prison in July following his arrest in March.

Having served part of his sentence he was released on licence. If he fails to pay up within the six months he will still be required to pay the order.

Dr Cogram added: “I hope this result reassures local residents that crime does not pay.”

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