Drugs wizard gets 20 years
by Ali Cridland
A chemist who set up a sophisticated drugs laboratory to make hallucinogenic drugs worth up to £5 million has been jailed for 20 years.
Casey Hardison, 33, showed no emotion as he was sentenced at Hove Crown Court by Judge Anthony Niblett.
But as he was led from the dock to the cells to begin his long sentence, he shouted to the judge: "You would think I was a terrorist. Thanks for your love and compassion."
Hardison received one of the longest sentences ever passed for drugs offences in Sussex.
Judge Niblett told Hardison, a 33-year-old American, he was recommending he is deported to the United States when he is released from jail in Britain because his presence in this country is detrimental.
Hardison, who believes hallucinogenic drugs should be legal, was convicted by a jury last month after a ten-week trial at Lewes Crown Court.
The court heard Hardison's drugs factory in the back bedroom of a rented bungalow at Ovingdean, near Brighton, was one of the most sophisticated and complex illegal labs found in the country in the past 25 years.
Scientists believed it was unique as Hardison was producing so many different mind-altering drugs.
He had made drugs with a potential street value of £5 million, including LSD and other less well-known psychoactive compounds which are rare on the drugs market.
Judge Niblett described Hardison, who sees himself as a martyr in the war against drugs, as a dangerous individual.
He said Hardison was a highly intelligent, articulate and talented man who has tragically used his abilities for illegal purposes.
He said: "You are a US citizen who came to this country to exploit the market for class A drugs. This was production on an industrial scale. You deliberately flouted the laws of this country.
"You have no regret for what you did and you have expressed every intention of pursuing your misguided beliefs in the future."
The judge said he had no doubt Hardison's motivation was for personal gain. He said: "You realised the potential profit was huge, running possibly to millions of pounds. I am quite satisfied that was your goal."
Rudi Fortson, defending, denied Hardison had been making the drugs purely for greed.
He said the self-taught chemist had started to experiment because of his desire to learn more about the drugs.
He said: "His actions were not motivated by greed. He didn't do it to buy a villa in Spain but in order to acquire further experience to continue to push forward the frontiers of knowledge."
During the trial the court heard how Hardison, known as OB1 by his friends after the wise Jedi in the Star Wars films, had set up his first illegal lab in the UK at the home he rented in Wiston, near Steyning.
In the autumn of 2003, he moved to the bungalow in The Vale, Ovingdean, where he continued to make drugs.
But in July 2003 he sent two packages to the US containing Ecstasy which were opening during a routine customs check. Drugs worth £4,000 were found between the pages of a copy of the satirical magazine Private Eye.
Hardison's fingerprints were found on the package and a major police investigation was launched on both sides of the Atlantic.
Hardison was convicted of six charges, including making three class A drugs, LSD, 2CB and DMT, possessing with intent to supply 145,000 doses of LSD with a street value of up to £1 million and smuggling Ecstasy worth £4,000 from the UK to the USA.
Hardison's solicitor Jeff Schone said the chemist was considering appealing against the conviction.
Police are taking proceedings to confiscate any profits made by Hardison. During the trial he admitted paying £2,000 deposit for a piece of land on the coast of Dorset and considered buying land in Mexico and Spain.
He also sent cash to his father Bob in the USA to buy a 34ft yacht called Atha Windwalker.