A MAN labelled a "trusted lieutenant" at a large-scale cannabis farm in Ellesmere Port, capable of growing £379k of cannabis per year, has been jailed.

Daniel Morini, 36, of Hinderton Road, Tranmere, had earlier pleaded guilty to producing and possessing with intent to supply cannabis, as well as possessing with intent to supply MDMA (ecstasy) tablets.

The offences related to the police discovery of the cannabis farm at a rented property on Rossbank Road, which contained 316 cannabis plants and more than 1,000 MDMA tablets.

Morini was also guilty of being involved in the supply of drugs and damage to criminal property for offences in Hoylake.

At Chester Crown Court on Tuesday, May 20, Morini was sentenced to three years and nine months in prison.

Also sentenced in the dock was Joshua Burgess, 22, of Pooltown Road, Whitby, who had pleaded guilty to possessing 300g of cannabis.

Burgess, of previous good character, was handed a 12-month prison term, suspended for 18 months and ordered to complete 200 hours unpaid work.

Prosecuting, Brian Treadwell said police searched the farm on September 21, 2017 and found plants, scales, lights and gardening tools, along with 640g of cannabis.

There was a bowl which had Morini's fingerprint on it, while the property had been leased out in his name.

Police said the MDMA tablets had a collective value of between £5,390-£10,780 and the 640g of cannabis £7,540-£9,140.

The cannabis farm could produce between three and five yields a year, between 8.4kg and 26.5kg, with an estimated annual revenue of between £104k and £379k.

Morini had five previous convictions for 12 offences, the majority of them between 1998-2000, plus one conviction for cocaine possession and drug driving in March 2017. He had not served jail time before.

Mr Treadwell said Morini played a "leading role" in the drugs operation, but Kate Morley, defending, said Morini "was not the main man", lived a "very modest lifestyle" and his sole motivation was to control his drug habit, as the offending began due to a drug debt.

Morini was "very remorseful", a "very different" man from 2017, and a prison term would be hard on his partner and their two-year-old son.

Recorder Michael Hayton QC accepted that a 'drug kingpin' would not be working at a garage like Morini was.

Sentencing Morini, he said: "You got involved with those higher up in the food chain – but there nearly alway is, and there were many below you. You must have been a trusted lieutenant.

"You are not someone who is at the top of a drug dealing team. They don't put their name to property and bank accounts, they remain one step removed.

"But without people [such as yourself], the drug kingpins don't have their drug empires. You accepted their trust and carried out a very significant role."

  • Co-accused Matthew Anderson, 27, of Norbury Close, Higher Bebington, did not attend the hearing. A warrant has been issued for his arrest.