Article by Guy Bell: A pair of pensioners were caught with £250,000 of Spanish cannabis that was imported into the country with chicken wings, a court heard.
Police officers raided an industrial unit rented by one of the pair in Basildon after neighbouring businesses complained of a “rotting flesh smell” and thought someone had died, Basildon Crown Court was told.
The man who rents the unit, Michael Kinkaid, 72, of Broad Oaks, Wickford, and Anthony Wright, 71, of Blind Lane, Little Burstead, each deny possessing cannabis resin with intent to supply.
As their trial opened on Monday jurors were told how the stench alerted a business owner and police to the unit in Hornsby Square, at the Southfields Business Park.
[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Prosecutor Peter Clark"]These two defendants jointly had custody of some 267kg of cannabis. Just to put that volume into perspective, that would be the equivalent of three 14 stone men. It goes without saying such a vast quantity could not be for mere personal use. The value of the drugs depends on how they are sold but being in bulk quantity it would be invariably cheaper. Allowing for that defence and even at the cheaper prices this quantity is estimated to be worth well over £250,000.[/quote]
Kinkaid and Wright were arrested after police officers forced entry into the unit and found Wright’s driving licence at Kinkaid’s home.
A lorry registered to Kinkaid, and formerly owned by Wright, was photographed arriving at the unit in Laindon before corresponding barcodes for boxes of chicken wings were found at Wright’s home.
[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Prosecutor Peter Clark"]The police were there because of an offensive smell that had been reported. It was a smell that was alarmingly similar to rotting flesh. That smell was emanating from the premises. There was concern that smell might be human in origin. Closer inspection of the upper mezzanine level revealed the concealed drug.[/quote]
PC Colin Wells found tucked away in the corner a quantity of flattened cardboard boxes, which appeared to be stained with blood and the rotting flesh smell was strongest in that area.
“Officers thought they could see animal meat on the packaging.”
In the corner of the mezzanine police removed plastic sheeting to reveal a large number of sealed, clear, plastic bags of cannabis resin, Mr Clark said.
[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Peter Clark"]Each bag weighed three kilos, which is the equivalent of six bags of sugar, and each of these was wrapped up in brown parcel tape. When that was cut open each of those packs contained either five or ten blocks of resin. In total there were 89 of the three kilogramme blocks with a cost of £1,000 per kilo. Evidential swabs were taken by experts for analysis and it confirmed the presence of chicken DNA. There were barcode documents found on the upper level mezzanine with the words ‘pollo ala,’ which is Spanish for chicken wings.[/quote]
Mr Clark said it was the prosecution’s case Kinkaid and Wright planned to sell the drugs.
[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Peter Clerk"]These defendants were at least involved as wholesalers. A receipt for bin bags was found at Unit 45 and it was possible to go back to CCTV at Asda and buying the bin bags was Anthony Wright on November 15, 2013. If police hadn’t moved in then it would have been sold to individual purchasers and users.[/quote]
The first witness called by the prosecution on Monday was company director Stuart Brand, who rents the unit in question to Kinkaid.
He told jurors he never visits the property but did so when he heard police had broken down the shutters to gain entry.
[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Stuart Brand"]The rent was paid and that was all I really wanted to know. The police were very secretive and they wouldn’t tell me what was going on. I was really annoyed because there was £1,200 worth of damage to my property, which I had to pay myself.[/quote]
Ian Harvey, managing director of Enterprise Adhesives and Chemicals Ltd, a neighbouring unit in Hornsby Square, told jurors about the smell.
[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Ian Harvey"]I began to detect a rotting flesh smell. I didn’t make any attempt to speak to anybody there, as there never seemed to be anyone there. I noticed the front of the unit had been jemmied open and I contacted Essex Police about it and uniformed officers arrived some time later.[/quote]
The trial continues.
Article by Guy Bell, Brentwood Gazette