Farm search found large amount of cannabis

AN IRANIAN caught with packaged cannabis worth nearly £100,000 at a farm in Stradishall claimed he had been acting under duress, a court was told.

Hanif Shakeri, 24, was caught by police after they followed him when his BMW was picked up by automatic numberplate recognition on December 13.

Ipswich Crown Court heard from Emma Nash, prosecuting, that Shakeri failed to stop after he was followed by a police patrol car with its blue lights flashing and he was arrested in the car park of a local business after colliding with two police cars. Inside his car, police found cannabis and more than £2,000 in cash.

A search of Home Farm the same day discovered packets of cannabis ready for sale, weighing scales, mobile phones and cash.

Shakeri was living in a caravan at the farm and police found 10kg of cannabis in outbuildings, some packed in small bags ready for sale with other amounts in bulk. Much was packed in 40 sports bags. Some £5,225 in cash was also seized.

The court heard that if packaged into one ounce bags for sale on the streets, it would have netted an estimated £99,600.

When interviewed, Shakeri said that due to a head injury he could not remember when or why he had arrived in the UK from Iran.

He told police he was forced by a man known as ‘Paddy’ to store and package the cannabis and been beaten up by him several times.

The court heard that the farm, which was under renovation, was valued at £450,000 and had been purchased by Shakeri and a local builder through a limited company they had set up.

Shakeri initially denied careless driving and possessing a Class B drug with intent to supply but changed his plea before his trial.

In mitigation, Richard Kelly said Shakeri received between £3,000 and £10,000 a month from his family in Iran.

His role was limited and he was acting under duress, said Mr Kelly.

Judge John Holt deferred sentencing to discover whether the farm had been bought with legitimately obtained money, remanding Shakeri in custody.