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Jailed cannabis farm handyman's £123k profits confiscated

PUBLISHED: 14:00 09 November 2012 | UPDATED: 15:21 09 November 2012

Court doors (photo: PA)

Court doors (photo: PA)

Archant

»A former Ingatestone handyman who helped set up a £1million cannabis factory in Essex has been ordered to hand over £123,115 of the money he made.

Michael Horsnell, 47, was shopped after police found entries in a secret diary his wife kept of his business affairs, Chelmsford Crown Court heard.

Her aim was to use the information in possible divorce proceedings.

The entries revealed Horsnell’s involvement in the operation, which had earned him £385,000.

The cannabis factory at Blunts Farm, Theydon Bois, was discovered by police in November 2009.

Horsnell, of Pantiles, Billericay, who used to live at Tor Bryan, was said to have made the money by helping to set up the farm.

Some money was found by his wife Wendy under their daughter’s bed.

As well as noting it in the diary, she had also taken photographs.

Horsnell was jailed for six years last July.

Sentencing him, Judge Karen Walden-Smith said: “Plainly this was going to be a very profitable business.

“You carried out the works needed to create the cannabis factory.

“Significantly, you were also involved in hiring generators – although I accept you were not a major organiser.

“It was a sophisticated and well-organised operation. The value of the plants was up to £800,000 plus.”

Horsnell was found guilty of conspiring to produce cannabis and two offences of possessing criminal property involving £55,000 and £200,000.

Entries in his wife’s diary detailed two sums of cash totalling £255,000 found by her at their then home in Ingatestone.

The diary came to light during the police investigation into the cannabis farm.

Discovery

Mrs Horsnell wrote that she had found £55,000 underneath her daughter’s bed, which she thought “inappropriate” and had moved it to the garage.

She later discovered £200,000 in a wardrobe in her husband’s bedroom at the home in Ingatestone but analysis of 19 accounts belonging to her husband showed no similar payments.

Horsnell had been involved in setting up one of the largest cannabis factories in Essex.

Police found almost 3,500 cannabis plants producing up to £835,000 worth of skunk in each crop.

Horsnell’s role was fitting out the inside of the warehouse and hiring the diesel generators.

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