Tenbury drug gang ringleader must pay back just £602

Andrew O'Donnell

Andrew O'Donnell

First published in News
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Three members of a gang which ran cannabis farms at two farms and an industrial estate made £138,250 from their crimes - but will have to forfeit only £602 under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Two of the men have no assets which can be seized while the third had only £600, Gloucester crown court was told today. All three are serving jail terms after being sentenced in March this year.

Judge Jamie Tabor QC certified the benefit each man had gained from involvement in growing the drug in Gloucestershire, Monmouthshire and Worcestershire.

Ringleader Andrew O'Donnell, 34, from Tenbury Wells, Worcs, who is serving five years eight months, accepted that his criminal benefit was £90,550 but that he has just £600 available for confiscation.

O'Donnell appeared before the court today via video link and Judge Tabor commented that he had put on weight while in custody.

The judge asked how long he had left to serve before getting parole and O'Donnell said just over eighteen months.

"You're going to be a big man by that time!" exclaimed the judge.

O'Donnell said "Yes, I am getting fat but I shall be a lot slimmer when you see me again. I'm taking diet pills."

Said the judge "I hope I never see you again, for your sake"

He told O'Donnell that if he ever wins or inherits any money in the future he will be liable to have it confiscated.

O'Donnell's trial had been delayed because he fled to Spain after being arrested in 2012 - but he was later tracked down thanks to the BBC Crimewatch programme.

He eventually admitted conspiring to produce controlled drugs on an industrial park at Cinderford, Glos, at his home in Manor Farm, Tenbury Wells, Worcs, and at Glannau Farm, nr Monmouth.

One of his henchmen, Robert Ockleton, 24, of Swallow Crescent, Innsworth, Gloucester, was sentenced to two and a half years jail for his role as a 'dogsbody' in the operation. He also admitted conspiracy to produce cannabis.

At today's hearing Tabor certified in Ockleton's absence that his criminal benefit was £44,550 but that he has not assets available for confiscation. The judge made a nominal £1 confiscation order in his case.

Paul Gibbard, 35, of School Mews, Matson, Gloucester, who was convicted of conspiracy after a trial and was jailed for three years eight months, appeared before the court for today's confiscation hearing after being transported from prison in Nottingham.

His role had been to run the cannabis production at the warehouse unit in Cinderford.

Judge Tabor certified that his benefit was just £3,150 and that he also had no assets. In his case a nominal £1 confiscation order was made.

The judge asked Gibbard when he was due for release and was told in February next year.

When Gibbard was sentenced the court was told he got involved in the offences because he was a single dad looking after his young son and struggling finanancially.

Today Judge Tabor asked Gibbard whether he had been able to see his son since being jailed and he said he had not but he had spoken to him on the phone and exchanged letters.

He said he was 'not doing bad' in prison and was putting the time to good use by taking courses in business and management.

The judge told him "You made a big mistake in your life. Put it behind you and move on."

**An alleged fourth member of the gang, Philip Johns, 58, of Wilcae Terrace, Raglan, nr Usk, who owned Glannau Farm where a crop of cannabis was grown, has been cleared of involvement fter juries at two successive trials failed to agree on verdicts.

The scale of the commercial cannabis growing plot was uncovered after tenants of the Forest Vale industrial estate at Cinderford smelt cannabis and reported it to police.

Officers found 371 cannabis plants growing inside. They had a street value of £184,000. Gibbard had been tending the plantation but Ockleton had also been there.

Police enquiries then led them on to Glannau Farm where 143 mature plants and 150 seedlings were found growing in containers in the grounds. Their street value would have been about £120,000.

O'Donnell's Manor Farm at Tenbury Wells was then raided and an even more sophisticated growing operation was found.

The factory was underground in the garden and was monitored by CCTV which was being shown on a TV screen in a bedroom in the house.

Two hundred and twenty cannabis plants were being grown in four buried containers and a semi-submerged portakabin with an estimated value of £109,000.

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