Cambs drug barn gang jailed for 36 years

Neil Badcock

Neil Badcock - Credit: Archant

A gang of men behind the largest cannabis factory ever found in Cambridgeshire have been jailed for a combined total of more than 36 years.

Kevin Hart

Kevin Hart - Credit: Archant

Police discovered 7,665 plants, with a street value of £1.75million, in a barn when they raided Tree Farm in Hill Row Causeway, Haddenham, in July 2010.

It was estimated the factory could have produced £8m of cannabis a year.

The drugs operation, one of the most sophisticated ever seen by officers, was run by Kevin Hart, 43, of Elm Close, Huntingdon, who admitted conspiracy to produce cannabis in March last year and was jailed for 10 years.

Among his seven accomplices, all charged with conspiracy to produce cannabis, was Neil Badcock, 45, of Linden Way, Haddenham, who owned both the land and the barn.

Badcock was found guilty yesterday (Tuesday) following a trial at Cambridge Crown Court and sentenced to seven years in prison.

Following a Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) investigation, Hart admitted he had made £8.5m from the factory and in July was handed a £1m confiscation order, the largest amount ever in Cambridgeshire. He was given six months to pay and failure to do so could result in an extra five years in prison.

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The other gang members who all pleaded guilty were sentenced at Cambridge Crown Court in August 2011. Michael Orchard, 43, of Orchard Close, Warboys, was jailed for four years and four months; Craig Green, 32, of Primrose Lane, Huntingdon, was jailed for four years; Kyle Green, 28, also of Primrose Lane, Huntingdon, was jailed for three years and three months; Matthew Wood, of Wulfstan Way, Cambridge, was jailed for three years; Trevor Richardson, 33, of Saunders Close, Huntingdon, was jailed for two years and eight months; and Marcus Burton, 48, of Montfort Way, Cambridge, was jailed for two years and six months.

Senior investigating officer, Detective Inspector Craig Harrison said the factory was run as a business with a clear and defined management structure, with staff paid wages depending on their role and responsibilities.

He said: “This was a network of criminals who were both organised and professional in the manner in which they conducted their criminal business, not only in terms of the production and supply of the drugs but also in the tactics they employed in an attempt to avoid detection.

“Hopefully the message is clear: if people commit crime and are caught, the police will not only seek to take away their liberty through imprisonment but also their lifestyle through confiscation, thereby ensuring they do not have the ability to continue with or prosper from their criminal conduct.

“The sentencing and confiscation associated with this investigation will hopefully alert those contemplating such criminal activity to think again.”