David Allen: Soldier and former police officer detained near Penrith School for growing cannabis
A “lifelong soldier” and former police officer who ran a “professional” cannabis factory from his village house near a school, protected by strategically placed weapons, was arrested.
68-year-old David Allen, who toured Northern Ireland, Bosnia, the Gulf and Afghanistan during 24 years of his commitment to his country, was caught after police received reports of a strong smell of the illegal drug coming from one just 100 meters remote farm ran out of Calthwaite Elementary School, near Penrith.
Detectives went to the small business on July 20 last year and discovered that Allen – a former personal computer who served in Northumbria between 1993 and 1997 – was involved in the “continuous commercial production of cannabis on the property.”
A search resulted in a “professional cultivation” of 80 plants with high-end special equipment that maximizes yield.
The systems were nearing their full maturity and were housed in a completely isolated room with sophisticated timed lights, heaters, and a working industrial ventilation system.
There was also a large drying area with a large, insulated tent, drying racks and vacuum packaging machines, and empty fertilizer bins.
It has been estimated that seven harvests could have been produced over a 140 week period, potentially yielding up to 42 kg of cannabis with a possible wholesale value between 50,400 and 336,000 pounds.
“A search of the defendant’s farm found additional equipment and packaging for the cannabis,” Prosecutor Alaric Walmsley told Carlisle Crown Court, “Notes and manuals on growing cannabis and operating the machines; Cash register; and weapons – knives, a crossbow, and air rifles in strategic positions ready to protect the cannabis farm. ”
One detective described the operation as “one of the most carefully designed and sophisticated facilities he had ever seen.”
Body-worn police recordings taken during a tour showed the extent of Allen’s criminal enterprise.
After he was released during the police investigation, he made “arrangements to leave the country.”
He missed a real estate agent in November when he “packed” and “retired in the sunshine,” mentioned “Asia” and suggested he would not come back but was arrested and on custody later that month.
A financial review of his personal and business accounts revealed “unexplained cash deposits totaling over £ 425,000, along with regular money transfers to an ex-partner in the Philippines,” while two passports everyone gave to the police had different dates of birth.
As a man of positive character, he admitted both cannabis production and criminal cash possession after £ 12,000 in separate £ 1,000 in a series of bedroom drawers.
Michael Davies, who defended, said the “real story” was not Allen’s brief time as a SC, but that through his army service he was a “national hero” who “bent down to commit this crime”.
Mr Davies stated that none of the legally held weapons were loaded and that Allen began using cannabis to self-medicate for a bad back.
Recorder Kate Bex QC, who imprisoned Allen for 43 months, said, “I am pleased that it is correct to say that you have played a leading role in directing and organizing the production of cannabis on a commercial scale. ”