Jail after fire at garage led to drugs discovery

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A 36-year-old father-of-three has been jailed for two years after a fire at his Halifax garage premises led to the discovery of a cannabis growing operation.

Shiraz Khan’s involvement with cannabis and amphetamine came to light in 2014 after the fire brigade were called out to a blaze at Akeds Motors, on Akeds Road.

Bradford Crown Court heard that the subsequent investigation uncovered a number of cannabis plants being grown in tents in a first floor area.

Police officers also seized a quantity of amphetamine worth about £8,000 and some skunk cannabis worth £870 as well as so-called “cutting agents”, scales and plastic bags.

Khan, of Milton Place, Halifax, pleaded guilty to producing cannabis but claimed some of it was for his own medical condition.

Last year a jury also found him guilty of possessing the skunk cannabis and amphetamine with intent to supply it to others.

Khan’s barrister Simon Keeley submitted a series of references in support of the married father and said the range of references from various members of the community spoke volumes for his client.

He said Khan was a hard-working man who ran his garage business as a sole trader employing an apprentice and a cleaner.

“The prospects for the business and both of those employees are I am afraid terminal if your honour were to send him to prison,” Mr Keeley told Judge Mark Savill.

The judge queried whether Khan had been “a dupe” in what had been going on, but he had to sentence him on the basis that he had played a significant role.

Judge Savill noted that Khan had not been living the high life and there was no evidence of any significant financial gain.

“I cannot help but wonder whether you are somebody who is concealing the involvement of others. I don’t know...but I have to sentence you on the basis that this was a commercial enterprise,” the judge told Khan.

The judge said he found it a very difficult sentencing exercise, but a prison sentence was unavoidable.