A cannabis dealer has been jailed – after spending five years hiding on a pig farm in Florida.
Alan Young was booted out of America and handed over to Merseyside Police after a tip-off about his whereabouts led to extradition proceedings.
The 52-year-old, who was hiding on a girlfriend’s pig and chicken farm in Mims, Florida, had admitted growing a “commercial scale” cannabis farm in 2012.
But, after sentencing was adjourned, he boarded a one-way flight to the US and disappeared off the radar of police.
Young, formerly of Westminster Road, in Kirkdale, was jailed for three years and eight months at Liverpool Crown Court for the cultivation of cannabis, possession of the drug with intent to supply and failing to attend court.
Kim Egerton, prosecuting, told the court a search warrant had been executed at Young’s Kirkdale address on March 5, 2012.
She said: “The defendant was seen coming out of the cellar with soil on his hands. The officers went downstairs and searched through the cellar area, where cannabis was being grown and stored.
“In one room were 43 plants. They were described as being about 5ft and flowering. In the second room, which was fully equipped with hydroponics, there were 20 plants described as saplings.
“In the third room was a plastic container subsequently found to be full of cannabis, which weighed a little shy of one-and-a-half kilograms.”
The court heard the value of the cannabis was estimated at between £13,000 to £27,000.
Ms Egerton said Young pleaded guilty on October 1, 2012, when a judge ordered pre-sentence reports to be prepared and adjourned the case until October 23.
Young boarded the flight on October 14 and only returned to the UK after being arrested by police in Mims on Tuesday this week (September 26) and put on a flight back to Heathrow Airport.
The court heard he had previous convictions for cultivating, supplying and possessing cannabis.
Tom Watson, defending, said his client had become involved in growing cannabis due to being a very heavy user himself.
He said: “His explanation is that he felt distressed - and what he tells me is there has been trouble in his life. His nephew had been shot, there had been attacks upon him and he says he went to Florida more over those concerns than to avoid the courts.”
Mr Watson said his client met a partner in Florida and helped her on her family’s farm.
He said: “The public perception might be that he has been living the high life in Florida, when he should have been here serving his sentence.
“But I would ask whether it was the high life, living every day wondering if the knock is going to come on the door.”
Judge Denis Watson, QC, told Young: “The circumstances of this offence are that the police executed a search warrant at Westminster Road in March 2012 and there they found a cannabis growing operation which I found to be commercial in scale.”Judge Watson said the flat was found to contain “umpteen” plastic containers, fertiliser, electrical transformers and said Young would have been capable of bringing the sapling plants to maturity.
Young was handed 40 months for the cannabis offences and six months for failing to surrender to court, to run consecutively.