A 'LEGITIMATE businessman' who was found with £100,000 worth of cannabis after being pulled over in Hayes has been sentenced.
Nigel Piper, 39, of Blenheim Park Road, Croydon, was sentenced to three years imprisonment at Harrow Crown Court on Monday (April 12) for his part in conspiring to supply cannabis.
He was arrested on March 15 2007 after having his lorry inspected at the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) centre in Cygnet Way, Yeading.
Police pulled Piper over after seeing his vehicle travelling along the M25 towards Heathrow airport and found that the vehicle was over a tonne overladen with waste that appeared to be the residue of a large-scale cannabis factory.
Upon closer inspection, officers discovered six cardboard boxes amongst the waste material, which contained 22.5kg of skunk cannabis, valued at over £100,000. It had been brought down from Hull and was believed to be intended for dispersal amongst dealers in London.
Evidence gathered by Hillingdon CID suggested that Piper, who described himself as a millionaire and a legitimate businessman during the three-week trial, ran two companies. One sold cannabis seeds and one specialised in the sale of hydroponic equipment - used to grow plants without soil.
He had become involved with an organised network of Vietnamese criminals to whom he provided the necessary equipment to set up illegal cannabis factories on a nationwide basis. He then assisted them in disposing of the waste from those factories.
He progressed to helping them transport the cannabis from the point of production for onward supply. It is believed that he had been involved with Vietnamese criminals for at least three years before his arrest.
Piper denied his involvement in the supply of cannabis but jurors returned a unanimous guilty verdict on February 18.
The case will be subject to a financial investigation with a view to confiscating Mr Piper's assets. An administrative hearing will take place on July 28 when a date is likely to be set for a future confiscation hearing.
DS Kevin Lynott said: "Mr Piper played a significant part in an organised criminal enterprise that had been producing and distributing very potent Skunk cannabis for some time.
"His conviction for this offence has been a detrimental blow to the criminal organisation he was involved with."