London - A police patrolman who ‘revelled’ in his double life as head of a cannabis gang was behind bars on Tuesday night.
PC Daniel Aimson was said to have been obsessed with TV drama Breaking Bad, in which a chemistry teacher turns to manufacturing drugs in a makeshift laboratory.
University graduate Aimson, 36, even copied storylines from the hit US series, the court heard.
When colleagues from Greater Manchester Police raided his fortified home they found CCTV footage of him wearing a T-shirt bearing the face of lead character Walter White and his nickname, Heisenberg. Aimson used a driving licence he had confiscated from a motorist during a routine traffic stop to rent two houses under a false name in 2015.
He used his brother-in-law Richard Grady, who worked at a letting company, as a go-between with the landlord. The properties, five doors apart in Leigh, were fitted with specialist equipment for growing plants indoors without soil and turned into cannabis factories.
Aimson described 2015 as ‘the year of investing’ and 2016 as the ‘year of making money’. He talked of buying a harvesting machine to maximise yields and making a Christmas ‘sales drive’.
One text he sent an accomplice referred to plans for a third cannabis farm that would bring in enough money for him to quit his police job. It read: ‘I’m looking at ditching work as soon as I can. I’ll have three on almost 50/50 splits if we get another – we won’t need to p*** about with anything else.’
Police began investigating Aimson after being tipped off about a crime gang that was using a crooked lettings agent to rent out properties so cannabis could be grown and then sold to a contact in Rhyl, North Wales.
Aimson was seen cruising around in his Mercedes, making cash deals in a lay-by and going to and from the properties carrying boxes of equipment.
He was also seen placing bin bags filled with cannabis into the boot of his car.
Police raided the properties in June 2016. They found 96 cannabis plants in one and 70 in the other, estimated to have had a potential to yield the gang £84,500. Officers also raided the home in Astley, near Wigan, that Aimson shared with his wife Rachel.
There they found £22 545 in cash, footage of Aimson in the Heisenberg T-shirt and three more driving licences seized from motorists.
Aimson, who was sacked by Greater Manchester Police in February, admitted conspiracy to produce cannabis and misconduct in a public office.
Owen Edwards, prosecuting, told Manchester Crown Court: ‘He was considered to be in a leading role within the conspiracy.
‘Evidence shows he both organised and financed the grows as well as him personally tending to day-to-day operations. In his various text messages it is clear that Aimson revelled in his double life as officer and criminal. He had clearly developed plans for expanding his business.’
Aimson’s lawyer Martin Callery said his client did not accept he ‘revelled’ in his crimes or based his double life on Breaking Bad.
‘He does accept he was involved in an operation concerning the production of drugs and he is deeply ashamed,’ he said.
Aimson joined Greater Manchester Police in 2002 but his career had been blighted by three serious road accidents while on duty, Mr Callery said. He had been off sick for several months as a result and was diagnosed with depression and anxiety.
Jailing Aimson for six years and four months, Judge Suzanne Goddard told him he had let his hard-working GMP colleagues down and it was ‘difficult to see the link between these mental health issues and your decision to organise the conspiracy’.
Aimson’s brother-in-law Grady, 31, of Hindley, admitted conspiring to produce cannabis and was jailed for 20 months.
Six other members of the gang were each jailed for between two and four years.