JAILED: Businesswoman laundered cannabis cash through Oswestry hair salon
Maxine Knott's partner produced around £800,000 of cannabis at his north Wales drugs farm.
The owner of a Shropshire beauty and hair salon who laundered her partner’s drugs cash has been locked up.
Maxine Knott, aged 50, passed money made by Simon King's cannabis farm through the Gorgeous Hair and Beauty Salon in Oswestry.
Knott, of Llansilin, near Oswestry, denied a charge of money laundering but was found guilty by a jury at Mold Crown Court and jailed for 14 months.
King, 47 and also from Llansilin, was locked up six years and eight months after pleading guilty to conspiracy to produce cannabis and money laundering. Nearly £500,000 had been paid into his bank accounts.
Lee Alexander, 35, of Silkmoor Lane, Stafford, received four years and nine months in jail after admitting conspiracy to produce cannabis and money laundering.
Judge Niclas Parry, passing sentence, told Knott that she had tried to dupe the jury when she pleaded not guilty.
King and Alexander set up a cannabis factory on the Bromfield industrial estate in Mold, where King’s furniture business acted as a front, the court was told.
Anna Price, prosecuting, said it was capable of producing cannabis worth hundreds of thousands of pounds.
She said there had even been a secret door at the premises, as there had been at the couple’s previously rented home - a farm in West Felton in Shropshire where there was evidence of previous cannabis growth, Miss Price said.
Miss Price added that Knott had had £150,000 in her bank accounts, although she said some of this may have come from her legitimate business, the Gorgeous Hair and Beauty Salon on Salop Road in Oswestry.
The court was told that cannabis worth an estimated £800,000 had been produced in a six-year period until last year.
Judge Parry told King he had an innovative furniture design business but said: "The main purpose was to hide a cannabis growing business on an industrial scale."
The money was enough for King to own a Mercedes, Range Rover and a Bentley.
The judge told Knott : "You knew what your partner was doing and you allowed your business and personal accounts to be used over a number of years to hide the proceeds of crime. You were enjoying the trappings of the lifestyle."
Knott’s barrister Saleema Mahmood said her client’s main worry was that if she went to jail her four staff would lose their jobs.
Representing King, barrister Darron Whitehead said : "He knows he must now pay the price for his criminal activities."
For Alexander, counsel Mark Nicholls said his admissions were "a brave decision."
The three defendants will face a proceeds of crime hearing in the New Year.