Drug dealer loses house after £10m stash seized

Drug dealers who stashed a ton of cannabis amongst rabbit hay have been ordered to pay back millions of pounds from their illegal activity with one criminal forced to give up the house he inherited. Mark Owens and Paul Seabrook were jailed after the drugs were discovered in a lorry at the Dartford Crossing .

Seabrook and Owens hid cannabis behind packets of rabbit hay. Picture: Kent Police

The cannabis – estimated to be worth ?10.2 million – was part of a massive illegal drugs network Owens and Seabrook were involved in for which they were jailed in 2018 . Owens, formerly of Beach Road in Clacton, Essex, has now been told he must give up his house following a court hearing to strip his assets from the profits he made from his crimes.

The confiscation hearing held at Woolwich Crown Court on Monday heard a review of the 59-year-old’s possessions was carried out after he was sentenced to nine years in prison.

He has now been ordered to pay up ?386,155 meaning the house he inherited will be sold to pay off the majority of the money. Cash seized and some money in a bank account has also been taken under powers relating to the Proceeds of Crime Act.

The pair, from Essex, have now been ordered to pay up to ?2.4m with Owens being forced to give up his house following the huge profits they were trying to make from their illegal activity. Picture: Kent Police

Seabrook, 54, formerly of Kendal Croft in Hornchurch, Essex was also jailed for nine years alongside Owens when they were convicted of conspiring to supply cannabis. A review found Seabrook had no assets and was told to pay a nominal fee of ?46.

But anything he may obtain in the future – along with Owens – can be confiscated up to a value of more than ?2.4m each, the court ruled.

Police estimated the drugs to be worth more than ?10 million.

Picture: Kent Police The drugs were discovered stashed in a lorry container near the Dartford Crossing.

Picture: Kent Police

Both men ran a conspiracy between November 2015 and May 2016 – when the truck carrying the huge haul of Class B drugs were seized by police on May 12, 2016. Road officers from Kent’s Road Policing Unit pulled over the truck and searched the container after the driver was unable to supply documents or sufficient information about his destination or cargo. Pallets holding boxes of rabbit hay were discovered but officers were suspicious and police sniffer dog uncovered the cannabis loaded underneath the bags of hay.

Owens was arrested on January 25, 2018 and admitted his involvement. An investigation found he used a site in Rainham, Essex next to where the lorry was due to drive to which had also received an earlier shipment supposedly containing rabbit hay the month before. Officers were also able to prove Owens and Seabrook were in contact when the police made the drugs discovery in Dartford.

Mark Owens. Picture: Kent Police Paul Seabrook. Picture: Kent Police

Seabrook arranged collection of the April 2016 shipment and his telephone number was given to a lorry driver due to make the pick-up.

DCI Patrick Milford of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate said: “The Proceeds of Crime Act helps to ensure that criminals such as Mark Owens and Paul Seabrook are not allowed to continue to reap the benefits of their illegal activities once they are eventually released from prison. “This case sends a strong message that our work is rarely complete at the point of sentencing, and that our financial investigators work extremely hard to ensure people who make a living from drugs, modern slavery or any other type of criminality are quite literally made to pay for their misdeeds.” To read more of our in depth coverage of all of the major trials coming out of crown and magistrates’ courts across the county, click here.

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