Former car dealer jailed on cannabis farm charges

Samuel Surgenor at an earlier appearance.
Samuel Surgenor at an earlier appearance.

A drug dealer jailed for 18 months for operating a cannabis factory, also became the first car dealer to be sentenced by the Crown Court for “car clocking”.

Former car dealer Samuel Surgenor, from Moorfields Road, Ballymena, not only admitted “being concerned in the production of cannabis”, but also “clocking” the mileage of an Audi and a BMW.

Judge Desmond Marrinan told Surgenor with his past criminal record, particularly for drugs, that “this is a case where an immediate custodial sentence is called for”.

The judge said it was recognised that there was always a diference between those who are “gardeners and those who manage the operation”.

The Antrim Crown Court judge added that despite the effect it may have on his family, “I regret to say that my duty lies in imposing a custodial sentence”.

Surgenor with previous drugs convictions both here and in Scotland, and a string of others for car-clocking, was arrested at the Deerfin Road cannabis factory in Ballymena on December 2, 2013.

Police, who later uncovered in excess of 270 plants with a street value of up to £220,000, had been watching the outbuildings for some time, which were “under the day to day management of Mr Surgenor”, for another “unknown male who had knowledge and overall control”.

Although Surgenor denied any knowledge of the Class B drugs, at his arrest he admitted: “Fair enough, I know, I’m caught. The war’s over”.

In total Surgenor was sentenced to three and a half years for operating the Cannabis factory, of which he will serve 18 months in prison, with the remainder on probation.

The 12-month prison terms imposed to the two “catch all” charges of car-clocking, were made to run concurrent with the drug sentence, thereby not increasing his prison time.

In addition Surgenor was ordered to pay compensation of just under £1,000 to a customer who bought an Audi car from him with the odometer showing 110,000 miles, when in fact it had clocked up 135,000 miles.