COURT: Scarborough couple Jordan Backhouse and Natalie Kellington supplied cannabis from their home
A businessman and woman who moonlighted as cannabis suppliers have been spared prison after police found a huge drugs stash at their home.
Jordan Backhouse, 27, and Natalie Kellington, 28, were arrested after police swooped on their home in Scarborough and found more than a third of a kilo of cannabis, York Crown Court heard.
Kellington, who runs a catering business, was home alone at the time and told police that she was solely responsible for the cannabis found at the property in Hawthorn Walk, Eastfield, and that it had nothing to do with her partner, who was out at work at the time.
However, following examination of mobile phones seized at the property, it soon became clear that Backhouse, who owns a labouring business, was also involved in the supply operation, said prosecutor Matthew Collins.
Text messages showed that although Kellington had arranged the supply of drugs, her partner collected and delivered the cannabis.
Kellington - who used a £23,000 inheritance from her grandfather to buy the weed - was charged with possession of a Class B drug with intent to supply.
Backhouse was charged with being concerned in the supply of cannabis.
The Scarborough couple appeared for sentence on Thursday after pleading guilty to the respective charges.
Mr Collins said police swooped on the family home in February 2019 after getting a tip-off that the address was being used for the supply of cannabis.
During the search of the property, officers found plastic bags and tubs containing herbal cannabis, as well as weighing scales, a “dealer phone”, a calculator and boxes and bags full of cash and coins which amounted to £568.
The total amount of cannabis seized was 385g, with a “street value” of up to £3,850.
“Kellington was asked where her partner, Mr Backhouse, was, and she said he was working but claimed it was her that they wanted,” said Mr Collins.
Backhouse arrived at the property a short time later and he too was arrested, but it was Kellington who was the main player in the operation, said Mr Collins.
Two mobile phones, both belonging to Kellington, were seized from the house and showed that she was “arranging the supply of cannabis through text messages”.
“There was also what appeared to be a debt list in the notes section of the phone – a digital list of names and amounts,” added Mr Collins.
“Backhouse’s involvement was demonstrated in the texts, showing he ran errands, collecting and delivering the cannabis.”
Kellington told police she took full responsibility for the cannabis found at her home.
“She said she was a long-term user of cannabis and had received an inheritance of £23,000 from her grandfather which she used to purchase the substance,” said Mr Collins.
“She said she smoked up to 10 joints (a day).”
Kellington claimed she had only supplied to friends and associates, as opposed to supply on a “commercial scale”.
Backhouse admitted he too was a cannabis user but said he had nothing to do with the drugs found at the house.
Kellington had a previous conviction for being drunk and disorderly and assaulting a police officer. Backhouse had six previous convictions including public disorder.
Victoria Smithswain, mitigating for both defendants, said the couple had “only supplied the drug that they themselves were addicted to” and that there was “no evidence of high living” on the back of the drugs operation.
She said the couple were now trying to kick their cannabis habit and that they were “capable of turning their life around”.
She said Backhouse would lose his labouring business if he were jailed, and that Kellington could potentially lose her catering business, which was already on hold due to the lockdown. She was currently working as a delivery driver on a temporary basis.
Judge Sean Morris, the Recorder of York, told the couple they had disgraced their family and said they had been active in the supply of a drug which “feeds crime”.
“You are ordinarily hard-working, and you don’t cause any trouble to the state and you haven’t done for a number of years,” he added.
“You are both in work; you both have caring responsibilities and it cannot be said that you are incapable of rehabilitation, which you clearly are.”
The judge said that for these reasons, as well as their guilty pleas, he could “just” step back from imposing an immediate prison sentence.
Kellington was given a 10-month suspended jail term, along with 300 hours’ unpaid work and a six-month electronic curfew under which she will not be able to leave her home between 9pm and 6am daily. She was also fined £500.
Backhouse, who played a lesser role in the drug supply, was given a two-year community order and ordered to carry out 230 hours’ unpaid work. He was fined £300.
Both defendants were made to pay £120 costs and a statutory surcharge.