John Read jailed after £2m Kent cannabis factory raids

John Read
Image caption John Read was sentenced to 10 years in prison at Canterbury Crown Court

A businessman has been jailed following one of the biggest seizures of cannabis Kent Police has ever made.

John Read 54, of Marine Parade, Whitstable, was sentenced to nine years in prison for conspiracy to produce cannabis worth an estimated £2m.

The father-of-four was also jailed for one year for attempting to pervert the course of justice, to run consecutively.

He was convicted following a five-week trial at Canterbury Crown Court.

Read was was arrested after raids at Higher Shelvin Farm, Wootton, near Dover, in August 2009, and industrial units in Coombe Valley Road, Dover and at Joseph Wilson Industrial Estate, Whitstable, in April and May 2010.

'Largest cannabis finds'

The force seized 4,400 plants at the properties.

Image caption Kent Police seized more than 4,400 plants in three separate raids

Det Con Dave Godden said: "This was one of the largest and most professionally set-up cannabis factory finds in Kent in recent years and the overall yield from the plants at all three locations would have been substantial.

"The behaviour of people like Read has no place in our communities and we remain continually on the look out for such illegal factories because of the harm they cause and because of the associated criminal acts which go hand in hand with the running of these illegal operations.

"I am very pleased with the result today and with the judge's comments which reflected accurately the heavy involvement Read had in these factories, despite his best efforts to disguise that and put police off the scent."

Co-defendant Roger Coombs, aged 70, of Lyndhurst Close, Crawley Sussex, was sentenced to nine months in prison, suspended for two years, after being found guilty of attempting to pervert the course of justice.

He was told he must also carry out 100 hours of unpaid work.

Kent Police said two Vietnamese nationals arrested during the raid in Dover in April 2010 had also been jailed over drugs charges.

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