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Cannabis-growing couple from Lincolnshire gave away £400k drug-dealing fortune in Kenya

By Barnaby_B  |  Posted: October 18, 2012

Michael Foster and Susan Cooper

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A Lincolnshire couple who jetted off to Kenya and dished out money to villagers and charities from the proceeds of their farmhouse cannabis factory have been jailed for three years.

Michael Foster, 62, and Susan Cooper, 63, pocketed around £400,000 during the sophisticated six-year operation - but used much of their ill-gotten money to help locals in the Kenyan village where they were regular visitors.

Described in court as the "most unusual cannabis growing case of its type" - the couple paid for life-saving surgery, bought computers for a local eye hospital and secured schooling for poor children.

But the pair were living an incredible double life selling wholesale kilo deals of cannabis, grown at their farmhouse near Long Sutton and another site in the Norfolk village of Terrington St Clement to a local drugs baron.

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Jon Dee, prosecuting, told Lincoln Crown Court: "This couple were both in their 60s and were of previous good character.

"It perhaps can be best summed up by Mr Foster who told police in his own words during his interview that this started off as a hobby and turned into a business.

"For six years they produced cannabis in significant quantities."

In a fateful twist the do-gooding pair were only caught when a police officer pursuing a burglar near the couple's picturesque home in Bridge Road, Little Sutton, recognised the distinctive cannabis smell coming from the property.

Mr Dee admitted: "At the time this couple were completely off the police radar. They were caught completely by chance."

When the officer knocked on the farmhouse door Mrs Cooper, a divorcee, answered. She replied "Yes I do" when the officer asked if she knew why he was there.

Inside police found 159 cannabis plants with an estimated street value of around £20,000. Two of the buildings had been converted into a growing room and drying room. Officers also recovered £20,000 in £1,000 bundles from a carrier bag.

Mr Dee added: "This was a professional and commercial set up."

A note from a man called "Jess" found in the farmhouse led police to search a second property linked to the couple in Terrington St Clement.

"It gave the impression of being cleared in a hurry after the balloon had gone up in Long Sutton," Mr Dee said.

"There was plenty of evidence of cannabis plant growing. Windows had been boarded up, there was a false partition and the impression of the plant pots was still on the floor."

Investigations showed the annual electricity bill for the Little Sutton farmhouse had risen by £2,000 which the couple explained by claiming to run a pottery business with a kiln.

Bank statements showed around £300,000 had been paid into the couple's joint account over the six-year period between 2004 and 2010. A further £100,000 had gone through an account held in Mrs Cooper's maiden name.

Mr Dee added: "The Crown accept some of the money will not have come from drug dealing, at some point the home of Mrs Cooper's mother was sold, but not all the money would have been paid in and £400,000 represents a fair assessment."

When finally caught in June 2010 Mrs Cooper "apologised profusely" for being unable to answer police questions. Mr Foster admitted regularly selling wholesale deals of around £1,500 to one buyer who was he was introduced to through a loan shark.

Gareth Wheetman, mitigating for Foster, said the couple did not use the cash for lavish living. "The very fact they were repeatedly flying off to Kenya in itself required money," Mr Wheetman explained.

"But the evidence demonstrates much of the money was being put to charitable and good use. While in Kenya they bought a computer for a local eye hospital, paid for children to be put through school and paid for a life saving operation on a man's gangrenous leg."

Chris Milligan, mitigating for Cooper, said: "Susan Cooper is a good person who has done a bad thing. There is another side to her, she has been a good mother, wife and partner to Mr Foster."

Cooper had offered not just money, but care, to locals in the village near Mombasa where they regularly stayed, Mr Milligan added. "When a young adult called Wilson got a gangrenous infection in his leg he was given two days to live. She paid for that treatment."

The pair, formerly of Home House Farm, Little Sutton, Lincs, admitted four charges of producing cannabis and a single offence of possessing criminal cash between March 2004 and June 2010.

Passing sentence Judge Sean Morris said he accepted they were a previously respectable couple of "positive good character."

But Judge Morris told Foster his own cannabis habit may have led to the psychosis which contributed to his crimes.

"Cannabis does that. It is a dangerous drug too often belittled," Judge Morris told the couple.

"You were growing it on a significant scale, jetting off to Kenya on it.

"I have seen the pictures of your property, it was a pleasant place to live. When police raided it there was £20,000 in a carrier bag.

"Lots of money was going into your bank accounts, over a number of years hundreds of thousands went into your account.

"I am sure you were doing good things in Kenya with your your drugs money. Whether that was to appease your consciences I can only speculate."

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  • Roadscource  |  October 23 2012, 1:21PM

    "This particular "hypothetical situation" was used to illustrate the flaw in the notion that a crime is somehow lessened if its proceeds are used for good" Oh i see, im sorry for being so thick WHINE, so your original comment indicated emptying Mystictose bank account. Well im sure Mystictose will be pleased with the punishment for the crime you've invented for them.

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  • Lincoln_Biker  |  October 22 2012, 11:39AM

    "I have overestimated the intelligence of my audience" And what a foolish over estimation that was. Unless your point of view can be grown, smoked or copy and pasted, it'll be lost on these Cypress Hill fanatics.

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  • TB78WHlNE  |  October 21 2012, 10:49AM

    "What the? What are you on? Nobodys bank account has been emptied and donated to charity against their will as far as i can tell from either the story or anyones comments. The story mentions £400 grand made from drugs sales but does not state it was confiscated or given to charity." My original comment was what those of us with an education like to call a "hypothetical situation". This particular "hypothetical situation" was used to illustrate the flaw in the notion that a crime is somehow lessened if its proceeds are used for good. I hoped this would have been obvious, but it seems that yet again I have overestimated the intelligence of my audience.

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  • fissionchips  |  October 21 2012, 12:51AM

    Just look at this and remember that cannabis is the conduit to a life like this for so many today: http://tinyurl.com/8nlmoyz Yes, cannabis introduces so many to a life on illegal drugs which is bringing the country to its knees. Many children are turning up to school today without breakfast because their parents are smackheads who started on cannabis. Cannabis damages and kills millions.

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  • Adrian1208  |  October 20 2012, 11:21PM

    kripparian Your another one that's living in cloud Cuckoo land. Did you know that people go to drug addiction clinics to get off this drug, it sends you paranoid gives you a whole lot of other Mental Disorders, if you dont believe me, have a look on the internet or go upto PHC in Lincoln.

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  • FreedomSpeech  |  October 20 2012, 8:50PM

    "Ahh how misinformed you are...1, we are not talking about hard drugs, and 2, Heroine and cocaine are NOT plants, they are derived from plants." Semantics fella, nothing more, nothing less. "both laws where based on racism and control." Racism? Really? One could argue that all laws are about control, but in a civilised society we don't get to pick and choose which suit and which don't. "Cannabis doesn't contaminate itself, dealers do. Cannabis doest sell it self to kids, dealers do. Cannabis didn't introduce human trafficking as a way of managing grow ops, dealers did. Cannabis doesn't start gang violence, dealers do." Firearms don't kill, people do. Firearms don't sell themselves to people, dealers do. Firearms don't use themselves in the commission of crime, people do. A similarly specious argument can be used to justify any number of ways to break the law. "Cannabis doesn't lure the young into organized crime by glamorizing itself, prohibition does." Ditto for heroin or cocaine. Is the solution to legalise the use of them too? Please don't place yourself on some sort of enlightenment pedestal and intimate that only those in favour of decriminalising the use and sale of cannabis are able to think for themselves. Those of us who oppose your point of view are equally capable of intelligent analysis (perhaps more so, because we aren't addling our brains with illicit drugs) and able to base our opinions on common sense and interpretation of the facts available. To suggest otherwise is pure arrogance on your part.

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  • fissionchips  |  October 20 2012, 2:37PM

    Now, I wonder, if a troll has just created a new name with the same useless argument? This is a troll I have met with regularly and recognize so well. Hehehe and if a reminder is needed, is this is a troll? http://tinyurl.com/99dzqjr http://tinyurl.com/cfhnhxh http://tinyurl.com/8q3wfod Never highly recommended when there's only a recommend button which can't be cheated: http://tinyurl.com/co4admg http://tinyurl.com/8gmop2o And trolls and comment warriors CLEARly arrive to learn to sing the song, "All together now…. You've got me under your skin You've got me deep in the brain of you So deep in your brain I'm really a part of you You've got me under your skin You tried so not to give in I said to myself this humiliation will go so well But why should you try to resist when, stoner, you know darn well You've got me under your skin. ;-)

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  • kripparian  |  October 20 2012, 1:30PM

    @fissionchips What you're saying is ridiculous cannabis a dangerous drug? Do you even take note of any studies done on it? I'm sure you drink alcohol and coffee don't you, well there actually considered more dangerous than cannabis, and what do you mean addictive it contains no addictive properties, unlike nicotine which is legal, and lets not forget the fact it's also along with being proven to be quite harmless but to aide in medical ways, and help people suffering from a variety of illnesses. You're making it out to be heroin, or even cocaine, which I find funny actually, back to my original point I'm pretty sure you drink alcohol and coffee and maybe even smoke, you're obviously a typical brain-washed government puppet, I don't even smoke this stuff but I'm not as ill-informed as yourself, you among many others thing 'because it's illegal its bad and dangerous lets breathe in the propaganda fed to us year in year out. The main reason it was banned in the first place starting with America was due to money wood produced more money as it wasn't so easily produced thus they got rid of hemp and cannabis, same with the drugs industry all these miracle pills we have created much more money than cannabis which was the drug given for most illnesses once upon a time but due to more money from manufactured pills they in turn voted to ban it, before you start rambling on with facts that are not even remotely plausible please do some research. If cannabis wasn't banned in the first place there wouldn't even be any crime related it too it especially in comparison to alcohol related crime which even though cannabis is banned goes way beyond it in relation. The war on drugs is a waste of time, your's and my money is wasted on combating something that shouldn't even be needed just to fill the pockets of people who earn more money in a day than the average person in a lifetime... get real and stop defending the government with false facts and propaganda when there the problem to begin with..

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  • Adrian1208  |  October 19 2012, 11:15PM

    SourAlienOG Also your cousin should be spending his money on his children & not on drugs.. He's a waster too!!!

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  • Adrian1208  |  October 19 2012, 11:09PM

    SourAlienOG Are you on this planet if so your far from being right in the Head!!!! ''CANNABIS HAS THEREFORE KILLED MILLIONS'' Nope, sorry. In 10,000 years cannabis has not killed one person ever. You will not find one recorded or documented death due to cannabis alone. Your trying to spread fear and propaganda, the vast majority of people are far beyond your intelligence and wont fall for your message, don't insult their intelligence. The chances are people that suffer mental illness because of cannabis have actually caused somebody's death, it's been heard so many times before a Crown Court, I was out my head on drugs, ie cannabis, you also need to look at the Drug Driving it's as dangerous as Drink Drive. So Dr SourAlienOG you need to grow up, look at the overall picture & what the drug does to people in society, they are criminals & a menace to all law abiding citizens. Your just a wast of space that thinks you know everything! But the point is you know NOTHING!!!