Neighbour of mammoth drugs farm: ‘We could smell cannabis in our garden’

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A neighbour of a Long Sutton couple who funded charities in Kenya with proceeds of a cannabis farm run from their home knew something suspicious was happening at the property next door.

Caroline Rickett, of Bridge Road, said she had a long-running battle with Michael Foster and Susan Cooper after conifers planted to hide the six-year drugs operation began towering over her home and garden.

Foster (62), and Cooper (63) were jailed on Thursday for three years after pocketing hundreds of thousands of pounds from growing cannabis in Long Sutton as well as at another property in Terrington St Clement, Norfolk.

Mrs Rickett said: “They kept themselves to themselves, but I knew something was going on.

“You don’t grow conifers this high unless you are trying to hide something.

“I even asked her once, but she just said they liked their privacy.

“When I complained about the conifers to the council they said it would cost £400 to deal with them, so I cut them back myself.

“I remember him (Foster) sitting in his front room watching me struggle once - they were not very nice people.”

Suspicions grew further when visitors to Mrs Ricket’s house were sat in the garden and said they could definitely smell cannabis.

Mrs Rickett said: “When I called the police they gave the impression there were keeping an eye on them. It was a huge surprise though when I woke up one morning to find the front of the house surrounded by police after they arrested them.”

A three-year sentence was not long enough, according to Mrs Rickett.

She said: “I’ve heard them referred to as modern day Robin Hoods but they had a £100,000 house in Kenya. You can imagine what that was like there. Three years is not enough for the hassle they caused.”

Sgt Stuart Hurst, of Spalding police, said he was the custody sergeant at the time of the couple’s arrest and they were not modern day Robin Hoods.

He said: “Giving money to the poor is commendable, but not from ill-gotten gains. They were robbing characters, not Robin Hoods.

“How many families have suffered in our area because of the drug dealing ways.”