A NEWLYWED couple whose cannabis factory was found by police while they were honeymooning in Cuba were ordered to repay £1,215 after making more than £90,000 from drugs.

Ricky and Leigha Armstrong, of Oaklands Road, Pontypool, jetted off to get married in the Caribbean.

But they left behind a cannabis farm in their rented property along with a cousin who was “dog-sitting”, Newport Crown Court heard.

Suspicious neighbours alerted Gwent Police to the smell and they raided the property in 2017.

The couple escaped immediate custody this April when they were both handed down suspended prison sentences.

They were back in Newport Crown Court for a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing during which Judge Daniel Williams heard groom Ricky Armstrong had benefited from drug dealing by £49,400.

He was ordered to pay back £1,000 within three months or face 56 days in jail.

Bride Leigha Armstrong had benefitted by £42,400 and was told to repay £215 in three months or she would have to serve 28 days behind bars.

When the pair were sentenced earlier this year, the court heard how raiding police officers found a locked room with 34 cannabis plants, heating equipment and a notepad full of profit calculations and growing instructions.


The plants had a maximum yield value of £22,500.

Prosecutor Tony Trigg said police found notes suggesting one ounce sales were being prepared by the couple.

Police estimated the plants would yield between 30 and 90 ounces.

The couple were charged with producing a controlled class B drug.

Judge Geraint Walters questioned whether illegal activities had paid for their honeymoon in Cuba, but it was heard the couple claimed a “tax-rebate” had paid for the trip.

Gareth Williams, mitigating, admitted it was clear the Armstrongs were “in it together”.

Their barrister said: “While there are not as many plants as you sometimes see in these cases, this was a determined effort to grow.”

“They’ve come here understanding the power of the court in relation to this offence.

“Mrs Armstrong has never been to a court before. She is of previous good character and this is very scary and stressful for her.”

Mr Williams added that Mr Armstrong had a one-year-old daughter from a previous relationship, and was a “stable influence” on her and his ex-partner.

Though he had previous convictions, none were drug related or had any bearing on this case.

“He took a very, very bad decision. Of course, Mrs Armstrong was also complicit,” said Mr Williams.

“The notepad was there, and we all understand what that means.

“It’s surprising that anyone who has done this before would write this information down to leave as a Christmas present for the authorities.”

Sentencing, Judge Walters said growing cannabis was a “scourge” on society.

“So happy were you in your little world you celebrated your marriage in Cuba leaving a drugs factory back in your house.

“You thought: ‘Why do I bother working when I can make vast sums of money growing cannabis?’

“People who think they can set up these factories will find that they too get knocks from police officers, because they are not that discrete.

“This kind of behaviour is a scourge.”

But, he added, guidelines allowed him to suspend the sentence in the “absence of serious criminality”.

Ricky Armstrong, aged 29, who pleaded guilty at the first opportunity, was given an eight-month jail sentence, suspended for two years, and told to complete 150 hours of unpaid work.

Leigha Armstrong, aged 25, who pleaded not guilty initially but then changed her plea, was given a nine-month sentence, suspended for two years.

She was ordered to complete a 12-day rehabilitation and activity requirement and 120 hours of unpaid work.