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£10m worth of cannabis hidden in rabbit hay

PUBLISHED: 15:15 24 September 2018 | UPDATED: 15:15 24 September 2018

The cannabis was hidden behind packs of rabbit hay. Photo: Kent Police

The cannabis was hidden behind packs of rabbit hay. Photo: Kent Police

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Rabbit hay was used to hide more than £10million worth of cannabis on a lorry stopped at the Dartford Crossing.

Police dog Sonny helped to sniff out the drugs in the lorry. Photo: Kent PolicePolice dog Sonny helped to sniff out the drugs in the lorry. Photo: Kent Police

Two men have now been jailed for their involvement in a drug supply conspiracy uncovered by detectives from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate.

Paul Seabrook, of Kendal Croft, Hornchurch, and Mark Owens, of Beach Road, Clacton, appeared at Woolwich Crown Court on Friday, September 21.

Seabrook, 52, was jailed for nine years and Owens, 58, was jailed for nine years and six months.

Owens had previously pleaded guilty to conspiring to supply cannabis while Seabrook was convicted following a trial.

The lorry was stopped at the Dartford Crossing. Photo: Kent PoliceThe lorry was stopped at the Dartford Crossing. Photo: Kent Police

The court heard how roads policing officers pulled the lorry over at about 9am on Thursday, May 12 2016 and carried out a search of its container when the driver was unable to provide sufficient information on what he was transporting or any relevant paperwork.

Several pallets holding boxes of rabbit hay were found but officers quickly established with the help of a police sniffer dog named Sonny that the individual packets of hay had been loaded on top of cannabis with an estimated street value of up to £10.2million.

Owens was arrested on Thursday, January 25 2018 and later admitted being involved in the conspiracy between November 2015 and May 2016.

He had use of a site in Rainham, which was next door to the intended destination of the lorry, as well as an earlier shipment supposedly containing rabbit hay in April 2016.

Owens was also proven to have had contact with Seabrook around the time of the police discovery.

Seabrook was involved in arranging the collection of the shipment in April 2016. His telephone number was provided by an associate to a lorry driver who was due to make the pick-up.

After the trial, Det Insp James Derham said: “I hope the outcome of this case sends a strong message to such offenders that we are committed and equipped to tackling organised crime groups across the county and beyond.”

The rabbit hay seized from the back of the lorry was donated to the RSPCA.

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