Kevin Slack successfully prosecutes £7 million cannabis case
February 12, 2018
Kevin Slack from Exchange Chambers has successfully prosecuted a £7 million cannabis case.
Robert Zielinski, 52, of Cliff Street in Kensington was jailed for eight years for conspiracy to produce cannabis and benefit fraud.
The corrupt builder’s massive property portfolio formed the basis for a £7m pound network of cannabis farms across Merseyside.
The massive conspiracy was founded on the lies of Zielinski – who had the keys to 31 rented homes and pretended to sub-let them.
Instead they were used to set up drug farms thought to have been organised by a criminal gang.
“Industrial quantities” of cannabis – with a potential street value of £7m – were grown across the network in a sophisticated operation managed by Zielinski.
The 52-year-old would rent homes and claim to sub-let them only to then allow them to be used for cannabis farms.
Jailing him for eight years at Liverpool Crown Court, Judge Anil Murray told Zielinski: “All of the properties linked to cannabis were under your control, you used your building business as a cover.
“You would agree to renovate premises, sometimes for a fee or often in return for the first few months’ rent.
“You pretended to sub-let the properties in some cases while in fact using them to grow cannabis. Sometimes you did put tenants in for a short time to give verisimilitude to the concept your business was legitimate.
“When landlords or agents asked about tenants or asked for proof of identification in many cases you fobbed them off with lies.
“You even changed locks on properties to keep landlords and agents away from the cannabis. You had the trust of the property owners or agents and you abused it.”
The farms had the potential to generate millions of pounds of cannabis sales for the gang controlling them – fuelled by around half a million pounds of stolen electricity.
Kevin Slack, prosecuting, said: “The defendant rented these properties on the basis that he would then sub-let them, ostensibly to members of the Polish community.
“The lettings agents were initially very happy to deal with the defendant as he rented a large number of properties from them and was also in a position to do repair work to the properties as he was a builder.
“It was only later that a startling pattern began to emerge.
“Time and time again it became clear that properties linked to him had been used for the growing of cannabis.
“This was no amateur production involving a few plants grown on window sills but rather a sophisticated set up involving whole rooms set aside for the production of cannabis with often hundreds of plants being grown.”
Kevin Slack is a member of the criminal department at Exchange Chambers.