Man in court charged over £1.2million drugs farm in former South Shields restaurant

Cannabis farm find at former La Rossa Italian restaurant, junction of Fowler Street and Back Beach Road
Cannabis farm find at former La Rossa Italian restaurant, junction of Fowler Street and Back Beach Road

A MAN has appeared in court accused of being involved in a drug farm in South Tyneside with a value of up to £1.2m.

Police discovered the 650-plant cannabis farm – believed to be the biggest-ever found in the borough – at the former La Rossa Italian Restaurant in Fowler Street, South Shields, last February.

Cannabis farm find at former La Rossa Italian restaurant, junction of Fowler Street and Back Beach Road

Cannabis farm find at former La Rossa Italian restaurant, junction of Fowler Street and Back Beach Road

Tehmoor Tariq appeared before South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court yesterday charged with being concerned with the production of the cannabis farm.

The court heard that the value of the Class B drugs found in the building was between £623,080 and £1,246,164.

The huge drugs haul was found on February 5, 2014, after police on patrol were told that the property was insecure. Police vehicles were at the scene throughout the day with officers filling bins full of cannabis plants of varying sizes from the property.

Police spent a day dismantling the farm and removing the plants from various rooms spanning four floors within the building.

It was a large cannabis farm, with a large yield

Prosecutor Fiona Varley

Three skips were also filled with lighting and heating equipment.

As well as cannabis plants, bags of cannabis leaves that had started 
the drying-out process were also found.

The boxes were then loaded into a police van to be taken away for analysis by the force’s specialist forensic team, along with the heating and lighting equipment used for the production of cannabis.

Police launched an appeal for witnesses who may have seen suspicious behaviour in and around the property to come forward immediately after the ind.

Cannabis farm find at former La Rossa Italian restaurant, junction of Fowler Street and Back Beach Road

Cannabis farm find at former La Rossa Italian restaurant, junction of Fowler Street and Back Beach Road

Tariq, 35, entered no pleas to the production charge, as well as a second offence of being in possession of £1 worth of cannabis in South Shields on March 11.

Fiona Varley, prosecuting, said: “The prosecution would say the matter is not suitable for summary trial. It was a large cannabis farm, with a large yield.

“The prosecution would say the defendant played a leading role. Therefore this court’s powers of sentencing are not adequate.”

Andrew O’Hanlon, defending, made no representations to the court.

Cannabis farm find at former La Rossa Italian restaurant, junction of Fowler Street and Back Beach Road

Cannabis farm find at former La Rossa Italian restaurant, junction of Fowler Street and Back Beach Road

Magistrates sent the case to Newcastle Crown Court, with an initial hearing to take place on April 21.

Tariq, of Hugh Gardens, Newcastle, was granted bail until that date, with conditions that he resides at his address and stays out of South Tyneside.

Twitter: @shieldsgazchris