“Tory councillor accused of being a ‘rogue estate agent’ for drugs syndicate
A Tory councillor was a “rogue estate agent” for a sophisticated drugs syndicate which grew more than a million pounds worth of Cannabis, a court heard.
Donal Hassett, 55, used false names, references and cover stories to rent houses which were turned into drug factories, it was said.
Police found 1,285 plants with a street value of almost £1.1m growing at seven properties, four of which were linked to the politician.
Hassett, who represents Newbridge for Bath and North East Somerset Council, denies two charges of conspiring with others to produce cannabis.
He admits fraudulently renting the houses in Somerset, Wiltshire and Bristol, but claims he had no idea they were being used to grow drugs, jurors were told.
The first charge relates to a drug-growing operation involving a 38-year-old Vietnamese man, while the second involves four other Vietnamese people.
Bristol Crown Court heard that £56,000 was put into his bank account while the second conspiracy was going on, between January 2015 and March 2016.
A further £81,000 was placed in the account of Tan Tran, 27, who is standing trial alongside Hassett.
Prosecuting, Simon Burns said Hasset, of Bath, Somerset, was the “property fixer, the rogue estate agent”, while Tran was the “courier, assistant”.
He said: “They were part of an organised sophisticated drugs syndicate operating to produce very large quantities of cannabis.
“It was as plain as a pikestaff that they had knowledge of what they were involved with.”
Mr Hassett had served on the Licensing Committee at Bath Council and was expelled from his local Conservative Party pending the outcome of these proceedings.