Teenager among gang of eight sentenced for £560,000 cannabis operation

Bristol Crown Court.

Bristol Crown Court. - Credit: Archant

A Pill teenager has been spared prison despite his involvement in production of more than half a million pounds’ worth of cannabis.

Colston Dixey was one of eight men at the heart of a major criminal operation but were caught by the South West Regional Organised Crime Unit (SW ROCU) last year.

The 19-year-old, of Marine Parade, admitted producing the class B drug and received a nine-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, plus 200 hours of community service.

Over a five-month period, police found six cannabis farms run by the eight-person gang, featuring heat, light and extraction systems designed to aid crop growth.

More than 800 cannabis plants were seized with an estimated street value of £560,000.

The eight men sought to sell the drugs across the South West and South Wales.

The group was led by 24-year-old Joe Hatherall, of West Town Lane in Brislington. He was convicted by jury of conspiracy to produce and supply cannabis and was sentenced on Friday to nine years in prison.

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Hatherall was the final man to be arrested last July after officers found him in a hotel near Bristol Airport with his passport, £550 cash and a letter of apology to his girlfriend. Officers believe he intended to flee the country, despite his denials.

Marcus Humm, aged 27, of High Street in Dilton Marsh, Wiltshire, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to produce and supply cannabis and was sentenced to three years in jail.

Martin McDonagh, aged 25 of Bonnington Walk, Lockleaze and Martin Casey, 28, of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply and were both sentenced to two years and six months in prison.

Dixey was one of four who admitted cannabis production but all avoided prison terms.

Detective Inspector Paul Catton, from SW ROCU, said: “We took this investigation on at the request of Avon and Somerset police to build a case against an organised crime group set to make hundreds of thousands of pounds.

“It soon became clear to us through surveillance and later analysis of evidence including phone data, Hatherall was the central figure co-ordinating his co-conspirators in the production and supply of cannabis on a commercial scale.”