Kent

Drugs gang jailed for £26m conspiracy in Kent and Norfolk

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Media captionFourteen men have been jailed for a total of 90 years for growing cannabis

Members of a drugs gang who grew cannabis worth more than £26m have been jailed.

The Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate said it was the UK's biggest ever cannabis cultivation, with thousands of plants seized.

Fourteen men operated from sites in Rochester, Sittingbourne, Rochester and North Walsham between 2013 and 2015.

They were all jailed at the Old Bailey earlier, with a 15th to be sentenced in September.

The first cannabis factory was uncovered on 28 June 2013 when police attended Rochester High Street following reports of a burglary.

The premises had been leased to James Allen in 2012 and large set-up was found inside.

Image copyright Kent Police
Image caption All the factories found had an identical set up
Image copyright Kent Police
Image caption Members of the drug gang operated from sites in Rochester, Sittingbourne, Rochester and North Walsham

The investigation identified that Allen, Michael Edward Corcoran, Michael Jay Corcoran, Stuart Sollis and Stefan Henderson-Clarke had also been linked to an industrial premises in the Canal Basin, Gravesend.

In June 2015, police executed a search warrant for three adjoining industrial units on the site and uncovered huge factories, with almost 10,000 pants seized.

The unit had been illegally connected to the electrical power supply causing an estimated loss of £14,805 for every 30 days the factory was active.

Some of the men were then linked with a premises in Laundry Loke, North Walsham, Norfolk, which was leased by David Graham using false details.

As a result of police surveillance, in October 2015 Norfolk Police officers searched the property and uncovered nearly 2,000 plants.

In December 2015, 4,633 cannabis plants were found at Staplehurst Lodge Industrial Centre, Sittingbourne, also leased by Graham, with a potential annual street value in excess of £7.5m.

Image copyright Kent Police
Image caption The drug gang stole electricity to grow plants

Jailed:

  • James Allen, 39, of Woolwich Road, Abbey Wood, London: Seven years for five counts of conspiring to produce cannabis and three counts of abstracting electricity.
  • Stephen Macey, 25, of Commercial Road, Paddock Wood: Six years for five counts of conspiring to produce cannabis and five counts of abstracting electricity.
  • Christopher Marsh, 30, of Ethelbert Road, Margate: Four years for one count of conspiring to produce cannabis and one count of abstracting electricity.
  • Damon Mills, 18, Ethelbert Road, Margate: Eighteen months for one count of conspiring to produce cannabis and one count of abstracting electricity.
  • Michael Edward Corcoran, 51, of Mount Avenue, Yalding: Fourteen years for seven counts of conspiring to produce cannabis and five counts of abstracting electricity.
  • Michael Jay Corcoran, 28, of Odo Rise, Gillingham: Eight years for four counts of conspiring to produce cannabis and four counts of abstracting electricity.
  • Stefan Alex Henderson-Clarke, 28, of Kennedy Walk, Walworth, London: Seven-and-a-half years for four counts of conspiring to produce cannabis and four counts of abstracting electricity.
  • Stuart Sollis, 51, of Bowyer Street, Camberwell, London: Eight years for five counts of conspiring to produce cannabis and four counts of abstracting electricity.
  • David Heath, 48, of Wentworth Crescent in Peckham, London: Seven years for three counts of conspiring to produce cannabis and three counts of abstracting electricity.
  • Colin Walls, 53, of no fixed abode: Six years for three counts of conspiring to produce cannabis and three counts of abstracting electricity.
  • Terrance Murphy, 47, of Caspian Way, Purfleet, Essex: Three years for one count of conspiring to produce cannabis and one count of abstracting electricity.
  • Stephen Creed, 46, of Beccles Road, Great Yarmouth: Six years for one count of conspiring to produce cannabis and one count of abstracting electricity.
  • David Graham, 51, of Plaistow Lane, Bromley: Nine-and-a-half years for five counts of conspiring to produce cannabis and five counts of abstracting electricity.
  • Andrew Prowse, 33, of Southampton Way, Camberwell: Two-and-a-half years for three counts of conspiring to produce cannabis.
  • Alan Marquiss, 69, of Disraeli Road, Thamesmead, London, will be sentenced in September. He has pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to produce cannabis and one count of abstracting electricity.

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