'This is our patch': Armed gang raided criminal's cannabis farm in Wakefield and smashed farmer in the teeth with crowbar

Two members of an armed gang who raided a rival crimal's cannabis farm in Wakefield and attacked a man with a crowbar as they stole plants have been locked up.

Wednesday, 10th November 2021, 4:43 pm
Updated Wednesday, 10th November 2021, 4:44 pm

The victim who had been looking after the plants suffered a collapsed lung as he was repeatedly kicked, punched and beaten with weapons.

Leeds Crown Court heard Mohammed Hussain and Joseph Foster were part of the gang who targeted a flat above a former business premises on Doncaster Road, Belle Vue, Wakefield on January 28 this year.

The business had previously been a hairdressers but was unoccupied at the time of the incident.

Hussain and Foster robbed the cannabis operation.

Glenn Parsons, prosecuting, said: "The gang's purpose was to steal cannabis that was being grown at the address."

The prosecutor said the flat above the former business premises was being used to grow a large number of illegal plants.

A man was living at the premises and looking after the plants. His girlfriend was also staying at the property with him.

The man later told police that he owed a drug debt to a man called 'Faz' from Leeds.

Foster got seven years and three months' jail.

He had been told to look after the plants at the property as a way of clearing the debt.

At 8.30pm the man and his girlfriend heard banging coming from outside the property and the sound of glass shattering.

Mr Parsons said the couple realised that they were being raided.

A group of five or six white and Asian males wearing balaclavas then entered the building.

Hussain got three years and two months' jail.

They were armed with weapons including a crowbar and a machete.

The prosecutor said the men demanded to know where the "dry stuff" was, a clear reference to cannabis leaf.

The court heard the leader of the gang spoke with a thick Irish accent.

He said to the man and his partner: "Stay where you are and you won't get hurt. Move and I will chop you up."

The man told members of the gang: "Just take what you want."

Mr Parsons said members of the gang then suddenly turned violent.

The victim was struck repeatedly with the crowbar.

Another man, believed to be Foster, watched and encouraged the attack.

The victim was struck a number of times and was bleeding.

An Asian male in the group then bragged about "hitting the jackpot."

The gang leader told the others to "get it bagged up."

The victim was attacked again and struck in the teeth with the crowbar.

He was then kicked in the face and stamped upon.

Mr Parsons said: "While he was being hit he was told: 'This is our patch. This is ours.'"

The gang were disturbed when police officers attended an unrelated incident nearby.

The men became concerned when they saw the blue lights of a police vehicle.

Two of the men ran from the property and jumped over a fence to get away.

Another man got into a 4x4 vehicle outside the premises and crashed into a fence before driving away.

Their actions led police officers to become suspicious and enter the premises.

They saw the crowbar and other weapons in the doorway and went upstairs with tasers drawn.

They found the victim on the floor writhing in pain.

The officers searched the premises and found Foster and Hussain hiding under some sheeting.

Foster had the victim's blood on his clothing.

Both men were arrested and the victim was taken to Leeds General Infirmary.

He suffered a collapsed lung, a fractured shoulder blade and swelling to his neck.

Mr Parsons said 18-year-old Foster had been involved in a dangerous police chase ten days earlier in which he put lives in danger by driving on railway tracks.

He drove at 100mph as he tried to get away from police officers during the pursuit near York.

He drove through Haxby at 105mph before driving the wrong way around a roundabout.

Foster then drove onto railway lines at Station Road and the officers abandoned the pursuit.

The defendant left his car on the railway tracks and ran off.

Police dogs were used as Foster was found hiding in a garden.

The incident cost Network Rail almost £8,000 as they had to close the railway line for 100 minutes.

Foster, of Johns Avenue, Lofthouse, pleaded guilty to robbery, dangerous driving, driving while disqualified and causing an obstruction on a railway.

Hussain, 30, Doncaster Road, Wakefield, pleaded guilty to burglary.

Clodaghmuire Callinan, mitigating for Foster, described the defendant as being immature for his age.

Ms Callinan said Foster accepted responsibility for taking part in the robbery offence but was not responsible for attacking the victim.

Stephen Uttley, for Hussain, said his client accepted that he would be facing a lengthy prison sentence.

Mr Uttley said Hussain had been told by others that they were going to burgle the premises rather than carry out a robbery.

Foster was sent to a young offender institution for seven years and three months.

Hussain was jailed for three years and two months.