August 29 2014 Latest news:

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A decorator caught red-handed with up to £250,000 worth of cannabis has been jailed – after blaming the financial crisis for driving him to crime.

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Ersan Ibrahim, 42, was caught with the haul stuffed behind kitchen shelves and bath panels in brick-sized packages at his house in Tavistock Close, Dalston.

Police also found scales and vacuum packaging suggesting a “wholesale operation” run by Ibrahim and his accomplice Sam Watson, 25, of Wittenham Way, Chingford. The pair had hidden more than 33kg of cannabis in various secret spots in the house.

They were each sentenced to two years imprisonment at Snaresbrook Crown Court on Friday, after both pleaded guilty to possessing a Class B drug with intent to supply.

Prosecutor Babatunde Alabi told the court how they were rumbled when police raided the property on August 6, saying: “When police searched the kitchen they found a shelf in a cupboard that appeared to be on a solid plinth.

“A part of the shelf was loose, however, and when officers removed the screws fastening it they found 35 packages of cannabis inside.

“Hidden behind the bath panel in the bathroom, they found a further two.”

Mr Alabi added that the street value was between £150,000 and £250,000.

Ibrahim was previously convicted for possession of cannabis with intent to supply in 1995, but had kept out of trouble since being released from jail in 1996.

He claimed he built up a debt to drug lords when he struggled to find work to fund his habit following the financial crash in 2008.

Judge Nigel Peters said the fact that the cannabis was packaged in 1kg wraps around the house showed that Ibrahim and Watson were involved in “a wholesale operation.”

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