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CPS welcomes Flass House drugs conspiracy convictions

Flass House. Credit: ITV News

The Crown Prosecution Service has welcomed the conviction of three men, who were involved in a major drugs conspiracy centred on a stately home in the Eden Valley.

Dean Cameron, 53, Philip Branigan, 32, and Charles Neophytou, 47, denied playing roles in a plot based at the Grade II-listed Flass mansion in Maulds Meaburn, near Penrith.

A cannabis farm with a street value of around £5m was discovered there.

But all three were found guilty at Carlisle Crown Court of conspiracy to supply cannabis between May 2011 and May 2012.

Five other gang members, including the owner of the house, had pleaded guilty at earlier hearings:

  • David Lawrence pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply Class B
  • Philip Branigan pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply Class B
  • Charles Neophytou pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply Class B
  • Dean Cameron pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply Class B
  • Lee Banks pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply Class B and possession of Class B with intent to supply
  • Paul Whelan pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply Class B and possession of cannabis
  • Mark Gallagher pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply Class B, offering to supply class B, possession of Class B with intent to supply, fraudulent evasion of the prohibition on the importation of Class C and abstracting electricity
  • Paul Davies pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply Class B

Today the final members of this organised drugs gang have been found guilty of their involvement in an extremely large cannabis farm in a quiet village in the heart of Cumbria.

This was a professional set up, whereby cannabis was being grown in at least 10 rooms in the house. A large diesel generator was bought in to power the electricity needed to maintain the plants in order to avoid unusually high utility bills.

The owner of the house, Paul Davies, was paid handsomely for renting it out to the other gang members specifically for the purpose of growing cannabis.

The CPS and Police are dedicated to bringing to justice those involved in producing and supplying drugs and will continue to work together using the proceeds of crime act to trace and recover any profits they have made from this illicit enterprise.”

– Isla Chilton, Senior Crown Prosecutor for CPS North West

Trio convicted over stately home drugs conspiracy

Three men have been convicted of being involved in a major drugs conspiracy which centred on a stately home in the Eden Valley.

Dean Cameron, 53, Philip Branigan, 32, and Charles Neophytou, 47, denied playing roles in a plot based at the Grade II-listed Flass mansion in Maulds Meaburn, near Penrith.

Flass House, near Penrith Credit: ITV News Border

The offences took place over a 13-month period to May 2012. Police estimate an illegal cannabis bush with a street value of up to £5.2 million could have been produced during that time.

The three men were each found guilty by a jury in a trial that lasted nearly three weeks at Carlisle Crown Court.

Judge Paul Batty QC told the three men, all from addresses outside of Cumbria, that it was "inevitable" that they will each serve considerable jail terms.

The three men have been remanded in custody and are due to be sentenced at Carlisle Crown Court in September. They will be sentenced alongside five other men, also from outside the county, who previously pleaded guilty to the same charge.

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Police seize £100k worth of heroin

Police stopped a car on the M6 near Carlisle last night and seized a heroin haul with an estimated street value of £100,000.

The Vauxhall Vectra was pulled over at around 8.30pm last night.

A 27-year-old male and a 22-year-old female from Carlisle have been arrested on suspicion of possession with intent to supply controlled drugs and are currently helping police with their enquiries.

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£200,000 of drugs found after police stop car on M6

Credit: PA

An estimated £200,000 worth of cocaine and amphetamine was found in car stopped by police on the M6 last night.

The Vauxhall Vectra was stopped at around 10.30pm near Kendal.

A 42-year-old male from Carlisle has been arrested on suspicion of possession with intent to supply controlled drugs, and is currently helping police with enquiries.

'Especially vigilant' Community Wardens could be finding more needles

Authorities in Dumfries and Galloway are investigating a 40% rise in the number of discarded needles found in the region.

They say it's currently unclear whether there are in fact more syringes, or whether the increase is due to "especially vigilant" Community Wardens being more effective at finding them.

40% rise in discarded needles in Dumfries and Galloway

More than 650 needles were found discarded across the region Credit: ITV Border

There has been a rise in the number of syringes discarded by drug users across Dumfries and Galloway.

Six hundred and fifty-six needles were found across the region for the year 2014/2015, an increase of 40% on the previous year.

A report prepared for Dumfries and Galloway Council also reveals that there has been a 32% increase in the number of complaints about the issue.

Six arrested after drugs raids

Heroin and cannabis were recovered. Credit: PA

Six people have been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to supply controlled drugs, after police searched a number of properties in Carlisle.

The police executed the warrants late on 26 March, as part of an operation targeting drug supply.

Heroin and cannabis with an estimated street value of £200,000 was recovered.

The people arrested:

  • A 30-year-old man from Liverpool.
  • A 34-year-old man from Carlisle.
  • A 37-year-old man from Carlisle.
  • A 41-year-old woman from Carlisle.
  • A 46-year-old man from Carlisle.
  • A 51-year-old man from Carlisle.

Our advice to heroin users is do not suffer with heroin dependency alone. As well as your GP we have strong partners in the community who can assist with helping you.

Unity alcohol and drug recovery service can be contacted on 01228 882299 for the Carlisle area or 01768 861280 for the Penrith area. Cumbria Alcohol Drug Advisory Service (CADAS) which provides drug & alcohol services to individuals, family members & communities to support recovery can be contacted on 0300 111 4002.

Anyone with information into the supply of controlled drugs should contact police on 101 or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”

– Temporary Detective Chief Inspector Andy Hill
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