Pubdate: Sat, 08 Oct 2005
Source: Eastern Daily Press (Norwich, UK)
Copyright: 2005sArchant Regional
Author: Richard Balls
Bookmark: (Cannabis - United Kingdom)


These are some of the startling scenes found by a police officer who
climbed through the window of a city house to help investigate a water

An "overpowering" smell of cannabis hit PC Richard Bell as he
clambered into the house on the tree-lined Earlham Road, Norwich, that
had been turned into a sophisticated cannabis production line.

Except for a couple of armchairs, there was no furniture behind the
front door of number 367, and every room was filled with cannabis,
specialist equipment and other paraphernalia needed for cultivating
and harvesting the reclassified class C drug.

Michael Ian Kemp, 38, of Abbey Road, Old Buckenham, near Attleborough,
was found guilty by an 11-strong jury yesterday of producing a
quantity of a controlled drug at the UKP 650-a-month property which he
had once rented with his girlfriend.

Recorder Guy Ayers deferred sentence at Norwich Crown Court until next
month, but warned Kemp that he faced a "reasonably substantial and
immediate custodial sentence".

PC Bell from Earlham police station - near the "cannabis factory" -
said afterwards that the cannabis seized had an estimated value of

Officers recovered 48 plants which would have had the capacity to
produce more than 6kg of skunk-type cannabis, along with 25.6kg of
herbal cannabis and 72g of cannabis skunk. In total, 99 exhibits were

"This seizure would undoubtedly have made a big dent in the local
cannabis supply," said PC Bell.

"It was a great result to shut this operation down, but I would appeal
to members of the public to report anything suspicious to us so we can
repeat this success.

"If you have a property near to you where no one seems to be living
but there are suspicious comings and goings, report it to us."

It was just after 2pm on May 25, 2004, that neighbour Ian Woodcock
found water flooding into his downstairs bathroom and hall entrance
and after failing to get Anglian Water to attend, went to the local
police station.

PC Bell agreed to go with him to investigate the source of the leak
and when he managed to gain access through a back window, he stumbled
on the hi-tech cannabis factory.

Every room of the two-bedroom property had been dedicated to a
different stage of cannabis production.

The bath was filled with clay pellets which absorb nutrients and are
used in place of soil to grow the plants, while the lounge had been
turned into a drying room, with leaves being placed carefully in
drawers lined with newspaper.

Hydroponic lamps were rigged up to timers in the rooms to ensure the
plants got the optimum amount of continuous light, along with fans,
dehumidifiers and fertiliser tubes leading to the containers.

Plastic clothes horses were being used to hold up mature plants in the
main front bedroom, while young saplings were being nurtured in the
downstairs bathroom.

"The flooding was coming from a faulty water butt on the first floor
landing, but the whole house had been completely turned into a
cannabis factory," said PC Bell after the case.

Kemp and his girlfriend Nina Gazzard had started renting the property
in June 2002 and moved out in October 2004.

When arrested and questioned, he told police that he had agreed to
sub-let the house to a man he had met in the Mitre pub and had
initially told him the rent was UKP 800, so he could make a UKP
150-per-month profit.

He initially said he had not been back to the house, but later said he
had visited a number of times to try and collect the rent money,
although he had no key.

On the one occasion he was in, the man had threatened to break his
legs and burn down his parents' home. He refused to give police any
information about the alleged tenant's identity.

A forensic examination revealed one of Kemp's fingerprints on the
sticky side of some duct tape used to secure a ventilation tube and
another on a newspaper dated April 29, 2004, on which cannabis had
been left to dry out. Another four fingerprints linked Kemp to plastic
sheeting used to block off a bathroom window.

Kemp was also charged initially with possession with intent to supply
class A drugs after a jar containing 80 Ecstasy tablets and three
grams of cocaine was found in the kitchen. But these charges were dropped.
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