A man has been ordered to pay back more than Â£15,000 he earned through growing cannabis in Gravesend.
On 30 April 2013, Kent Police executed a warrant under the Misuse of Drugs Act at a house in Cimba Wood, Gravesend. In the kitchen, officers found 44 year-old Ian McLaren wearing latex gloves, a forensic suit and Wellington boots.
Also in the kitchen were cannabis plants, plus empty pots, ducting and growth chemicals. It was also established that the electricity meter had been bypassed, a practice often employed within cannabis factories.
McLaren, of Cambridge Street, Pimlico, was jailed at Maidstone Crown Court on 23 July 2013. He received 34 months after pleading guilty to cultivating cannabis, abstracting electricity and possessing a weapon for the discharge of noxious liquid or gas.
At Maidstone Crown Court on 16 October 2014, the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate successfully made an application for a confiscation order under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA). If he fails to pay Â£15,220.19 within six months, McLarenâ€™s sentence will be extended by another 10 months.
Financial Investigator Sam Holpin from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate said: â€˜The lounge of the house had a tent with fans and lighting, and yet more cannabis plants. The upstairs of the house had three rooms – two of them fitted with tents, lighting and fans along with empty pots.
â€˜In total 115 cannabis plants and Â£4,885 were recovered from this property, and others in London and Gravesend.â€™
Police forces can apply for a confiscation order under POCA at a crown court to deprive criminals of cash and other property accrued through criminal activity. Financial investigators look at bank accounts, houses, vehicles and valuables, even if legally held, to determine if these assets could be used to pay back the amount benefited from crime.