Man who owned location of Cambridgeshire’s biggest ever cannabis factory told to repay over £400,000

Neil Badcock

Neil Badcock

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A man who owns the land and barn where Cambridgeshire’s largest ever cannabis factory was discovered has been ordered to pay back more than £400,000 by a court.

Neil Badcock, 48, was convicted of conspiracy to produce cannabis in October 2013 following a trial at Cambridge Crown Court and jailed for seven years.

He was arrested following a police raid on Tree Farm, in Hill Row Causeway, Haddenham, on July 8, 2010.

Last month, at the same court, Badcock was told he would have to pay back £425,000 of his ill-gotten gains within three months under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA). If he fails to he will face a four-year extension of his current sentence with the payment still owed.

However, the court heard he had assets totalling nearly £650,000 including a farm house, bungalow, barns, machinery and the land itself at Tree Farm.

As previously reported, the cannabis factory at Tree Farm was run by Kevin Hart, 46, of Elm Close, Huntingdon. He was jailed for 10 years after pleading guilty to the same charge and ordered to pay back more than £1 million in criminal gains.

At the time, Tree Farm was one of the largest and most professional cannabis set ups found in England and Wales.

Officers discovered production on an industrial scale, with 7655 plants in various stages of growth in a large barn.

The estimated street value of the recovered plants was £1.75 million, with a yearly yield of approximately £8 million.

The factory was run as a business with a clear and defined management structure, with staff paid wages depending on their role and responsibilities.

Hart, Badcock and six others were arrested and all charged with conspiracy to produce cannabis.

In 2013, Hart conceded to a criminal benefit of £8.5 million but contested his realisable assets. Judge Gareth Hawkesworth ordered the confiscation order of £1 million, the largest for a case in Cambridgeshire.

The six further people were jailed in August 2011 for terms from two-and-a-half-year to four years and four months.

Last month’s ruling on Badcock brings the total criminal benefit conceded by all involved to more than £10.6 million.

Asset Recover Team Leader Malcolm Ewles, from the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU), said: “Badcock fought this order all the way and it is particularly pleasing that the total criminal benefit has now been conceded.

“This was an organised and professional network of criminals who were making substantial amounts of cash from their enterprise.

“However, the message is clear: those who think they can get away with this kind of criminal operation should think again. They will be caught and we will not only seek prosecution but also target their lifestyle through confiscation, ensuring they do not continue with or prosper from their crime.”