Page last updated at 19:06 GMT, Friday, 5 February 2010

Lancing 'cannabis cafe' group sentenced

Four people have been sentenced for conspiring to supply drugs at a Lancing "cannabis cafe" in West Sussex.

Michael Alday, 44, from Lancing, was jailed for three years, and Lee Russell, 41, from Worthing, was jailed for 18 months at Kingston Crown Court.

Wendy Edwards, 40, from Brighton, was sentenced to nine months imprisonment suspended for two years.

Sebastian Flynn, 21, from Worthing, was given an 18-month supervision order and an 80-hour community service order.

'Hole-in-the-wall cafe'

Edwards and Flynn had pleaded guilty on the first day of their trial in November last year but Alday and Russell were convicted by a jury.

During the trial, the court heard that police "bashed" their way into the so-called "hole-in-the-wall cafe" in Freshbrook Road.

Electrified barbed wire had been put on the building, jurors heard.

The prosecution said the cafe's security measures, which also included a reinforced "air lock-style" system of double doors, gave those inside the building time to incinerate drugs.

'Police tactics'

The court heard the cafe's customers nicknamed the business the "hole-in-the-wall cafe" because of the means of entry employed by police during repeated raids.

Det Sgt Jason Turner, from Sussex Police, said the sentences were very satisfying for all the officers that had worked on the "long and protracted" case.

"A full range of police tactics were deployed to disrupt and dismantle an organised crime group distributing and profiting from the sale of cannabis.

"By shutting the cafe the local community has been allowed to return to normality and the dealing of controlled drugs removed from their doorstep."

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