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Gang behind £26million cannabis farms in Gravesend, Rochester, Sittingbourne and Norfolk are convicted

PUBLISHED: 13:19 08 May 2017

The cannabis farm in Gravesend

The cannabis farm in Gravesend

Archant

More than a dozen offenders have been convicted

The convictions:

Prior to the first Trial, which took place at the Old Bailey between September 5 and November 28 2016:

· James Allen, 39 and of Woolwich Road in Abbey Wood, pleaded guilty to five counts of conspiring to produce cannabis and three counts of abstracting electricity.

· Stephen Macey, 25 and of Commercial Road in Paddock Wood, pleaded guilty to five counts of conspiring to produce cannabis and five counts of abstracting electricity.

· Christopher Marsh, 30 and of Ethelbert Road in Margate, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to produce cannabis and one count of abstracting electricity.

· Damon Mills, 18 also of Ethelbert Road in Margate, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to produce cannabis and one count of abstracting electricity.

The eight defendants tried at the Old Bailey between September 5 and November 28 2016 were:

· Michael Edward Corcoran, 51 and of Mount Avenue in Yalding, was found guilty of seven counts of conspiring to produce cannabis and five counts of abstracting electricity.

· Michael Jay Corcoran, 28 of Odo Rise in Gillingham, the son of Michael Edward Corcoran, was found guilty of four counts of conspiring to produce cannabis and four counts of abstracting electricity.

· Stefan-Alex Henderson Clarke, 27 and Kennedy Walk in Walworth, London, was found guilty of four counts of conspiring to produce cannabis and four counts of abstracting electricity.

· Stuart Sollis, 51 and of Bowyer Street in Camberwell, London, was found guilty of five counts of conspiring to produce cannabis and four counts of abstracting electricity.

· David Heath, 48 and of Wentworth Crescent in Peckham, London, was found guilty of three counts of conspiring to produce cannabis and three counts of abstracting electricity.

· Colin Walls, 52 and of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to produce cannabis and was found guilty of two further counts of conspiring to produce cannabis and three counts of abstracting electricity.

· Terrance Murphy, 47 and of Caspian Way in Purfleet, Essex, was found guilty of one count of conspiring to produce cannabis and one count of abstracting electricity.

· Stephen Creed, 45 and of Beccles Road in St Olaves, Great Yarmouth, was found Guilty following of one count of conspiring to produce cannabis and one count of abstracting electricity.

· Prior to the second trial at the Old Bailey, David Graham, 50 and of Plaistow Lane in Bromley, pleaded guilty to five counts of conspiring to produce cannabis and five counts of abstracting electricity.

The following convictions came at a second trial at the Old Bailey which came between April 3 and May 5:

· Alan Marquiss, 69 and of Disraeli Road in Thamesmead, pleaded guilty during proceedings to one count of conspiring to produce cannabis and one count of abstracting electricity.

· Andrew Prowse, 32 previously of Southampton Way in Camberwell, London, pleaded guilty during proceedings to three counts of conspiring to produce cannabis.

A gang of criminals who had grown more than 16,000 cannabis plants with an annual yield of £26million have been convicted.

Between 2013 and 2015 police discovered four make-shift factories growing the class B substance, the first of which was found in Rochester High Street.

Police were originally called to the scene after reports of a robbery, when officers arrived, they found the back door had been forced open and the factory within.

Officers went on to discover three more industrial-sized cannabis farms in the old taxi rank at Gravesend’s Canal Basin, Staplehurst Road in Sittingbourne and another in Norfolk.

The cannabis farm in GravesendThe cannabis farm in Gravesend

All of the factories were set-up to be near identical, two-storey wooden constructions used to farm the substance.

The largest of all the discoveries came during a series of warrants at three neighbouring industrial units in Gravesend, where nearly 10,000 plants were found.

According to Kent Police £16million worth of cannabis was found inside the units.

Police were first called to the properties in June 2015 after reports a disturbance on the gated industrial site.

The cannabis farm in GravesendThe cannabis farm in Gravesend

When they were arrived, a small cannabis plant was found on the floor nearby, and police began executing warrants.

On top of the drug farming, police found thousands of pounds worth of electricity had been siphoned off to make the factory conditions possible.

In October 2015, police discovered £3million worth of cannabis at a factory in Norfolk, while £7.5million worth was found at the Sittingbourne makeshift factory in December the same year.

Since September 2016, there have been 15 convictions relating to the activity, including men from Thamesmead and Bromley.

The cannabis farm in GravesendThe cannabis farm in Gravesend

The latest convictions came last week.

All those convicted are due to be sentenced in July.

Det insp James Derham, from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said “This was a highly organised and prolific conspiracy to produce and sell cannabis on an industrial scale.

“We estimate the annual street value of these plants was in excess of £26 million – a significant amount of money that could have been used to fund further criminal activity.

The cannabis farm in GravesendThe cannabis farm in Gravesend

“This case was a significant undertaking by the investigation team due to the level of sophistication and analytical work.

“This case sends out a clear message that Kent Police has the resources and expertise to bring offenders involved in high level, organised criminality to justice.”

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