A man who thought he was above the law rented a detached house in the countryside and set about growing cannabis on a commercial basis.

Kieran Andrew Kearney, 33, also fraudulently claimed thousands of pounds in benefits and led something of an extravagant lifestyle.

For example. he had been on holiday to Las Vegas and brazenly uploaded photographs of his trip onto Facebook despite claiming benefits illegally, Mold Crown Court was told.

But his world came crashing down when Kearney, of Llety’r Bugail, Ffordd y Blaenau in Treuddyn, near Mold, was jailed for a total of 27 months.

Judge David Hale told him he had effectively stolen money from the public to which he was not entitled and had gone off to Vegas.

He had deliberately set about growing cannabis and the time had come where he had to pay the price.

“This was deliberate, long-term conduct on your part. You thought that you were above it all and that you could get away with it,” said Judge Hale.

He had got away with nearly £40,000 of taxpayers’ money.

“You thought you were entitled to it and that you could spend it as you wished,” he said.

Kearney also had a large number of cannabis plants in a sophisticated growing operation and had abstracted electricity to do so.

Kearney admitted that, between 2013 and 2016, he failed to disclose self-employed earnings to the Department for Work and Pensions when claiming employment support allowance and that between October 2015 and July 2016 he failed to inform Flintshire Council of his earnings when claiming housing benefit.

He admitted a similar offence involving Cheshire and Chester West Council between August 2013 and October 2015.

Kearney had already admitted producing 89 cannabis plants and illegally using more than £4,000 worth of electricity.

Barrister Matthew Curtis, prosecuting, said the claim to the DWP was fraudulent from the start.

Kearfney failed to declare that he was running an internet company selling clothing and other items.

Facebook entries showed him having a rather lavish lifestyle including a trip to Las Vegas. The prosecutor said he rather brazenly uploaded photographs of his trip while he was claiming benefits illegally.

Interviewed, he suggested he did not regard himself as being subject to the law of the land.

In February of last year police executed a search warrant at the home he rented in his own grounds in a rural location and found 32 large cannabis plants in the garage and about 57 baby and medium sized plants in a second growing area inside the house.

It appeared to have been a continuing production of cannabis and a large growing area was also found containing cannabis bud.

Some £4,000 worth of electricity had been illegally abstracted.

Kearney was arrested on the M6 and brought back to North Wales.

On the way he asked if it was illegal simply to possess cannabis growing equipment. When told it was not, he said it was a shame that the raid did not take place earlier when there were no plants there.

Defence barrister Simon Killeen said his client had the good sense to plead guilty. A suspended sentence had been suggested in the pre-sentence report.

He had no committed any offences of dishonesty since 2009

Kearney had a partner who was not well, he was helping to look after their child, and he was now employed in more menial work.