Masked Burglars in Dramatic Rooftop Standoff with Police After Cannabis Factory Raid

Dramatic moment Folkestone Cannabis factory raiders caught by police on Guildhall Street rooftops

Dramatic moment Folkestone Cannabis factory raiders caught by police on Guildhall Street rooftops.

This is the dramatic moment masked burglars who raided a town centre cannabis factory were confronted by police after fleeing onto the rooftops.

The trio – captured on camera during a 30-minute stand-off with officers – were among an armed gang of nine who had forced their way into a property in Guildhall Street, Folkestone, in an “orchestrated hit”.

But after the thugs had burst into the building, a man believed to be “minding” the commercial-size drug crop - worth more than £130,000 - fell from the roof and suffered serious injuries.

This triggered a huge emergency services response, thwarting the planned theft of the huge cannabis haul, which a judge said was “clearly of value to another organised crime group”.

Canterbury Crown Court heard how the raiders - wearing balaclavas, hoods and gloves, and armed with knives and a crowbar - approached the three-storey building in pairs and a trio on October 20 last year.

But having carried out the raid en masse, a member of the public alerted police at 5.35am to the fact someone had fallen from a roof into his rear courtyard in the same road.

Officers arrived nine minutes later and found the injured “minder”, an Albanian who had sustained two fractures to his back, a facial fracture, and a tear to his aorta artery.

With him in the courtyard were two of the burglars.

One, Abdulkadir Abdi, lied about his presence, saying he was "just helping his mate", and then started to scamper up an exterior staircase towards the roof.

But as the second crook jumped over a fence and ran off, Abdi's escape bid came to an abrupt halt when a Taser was drawn and he was "red-dotted", said prosecutor Donna Longcroft.

Faced with the threat of the weapon being deployed, he "complied" and walked back down the steps to be arrested.

The court heard the officers, having also contained the area, then came under fire as they awaited back-up from broken glass being thrown from two upstairs windows.

Once reinforcements had arrived, they stormed the building and found the cannabis cultivation, which was worth up to £134,000 on the street.

That end of Guildhall Street, a stone’s throw from the town’s Asda superstore, was taped off as officers searched for the remaining raiders.

An exit hatch leading onto the roof was also discovered and, with the use of CCTV and a drone, police tracked down three more of the raiders - Liam Walker, Leo Joseph and Tony Kelly.

Dressed in dark clothing, they were spotted sitting on a neighbouring roof and, after 30 minutes of "police negotiations", they clambered back towards waiting officers to be arrested.

Weapons found on the roof and inside the building included a Stanley knife, a flick knife and a crowbar.

The court heard the cannabis "minder" was taken to Ashford's William Harvey Hospital before being transferred to King's College Hospital in London.

He was also arrested but has not yet been charged with any offence.

The court was told the remaining five gang members who targeted the building all ran off towards a nearby Lidl and escaped arrest.

Abdi, 28, of Underwood, New Addington, Croydon, Walker, 30, of Stanstead Road, Forest Hill, London, Joseph, 26, of Minard Road, Lewisham, London, and 27-year-old Tony Kelly, of St Andrew's Road, Plaistow, London, admitted burglary.

Kelly, who worked for Transport for London, told police he had been ordered by drug dealers to go to the building and "grab as much cannabis as possible".

"It was an orchestrated hit on a property because valuable drugs were growing inside...”

He said he had acted under duress and did not know a man had fallen during the break-in.

Abdi, a one-time business management university student, has eight previous convictions for 14 offences related to dishonesty, violence, weapons and supplying drugs.

Claims by his barrister that he had stayed in the courtyard out of "concern and shock" for the injured man were rejected by the judge.

Walker, said to be the primary carer for his two sons, has 17 previous convictions for 23 offences, including three related to drugs, while Joseph has three offences to his name for driving and drug offences.

Passing sentence, Recorder Amy Nicholson said the raid bore "all the hallmarks" of being related to organised crime.

"It was an orchestrated hit on a property because valuable drugs were growing inside," she told the court.

"They were in on it together, they knew what was going on. They all had roles to play.

"It's clear the purpose was to go in, each of you, and steal as much as you could and no doubt the manpower was such because of the number of plants that were suspected to be inside.

"That cannabis factory was clearly of value to another organised crime group and, being the ages you were and sufficient men of the world, knew that force may need to be used.

"A man must have been inside already and he came to an unfortunate end in the sense he fell from the roof and sustained serious injuries."

But Recorder Nicholson said despite their conduct that day having had the potential for "extreme consequences", there was a realistic prospect of rehabilitation which allowed her to spare them immediate jail terms.

Imposing suspended sentences on each, she warned them: "I hope I don't live to regret that. This is an opportunity to make something of your lives.

"You are all still young. I don't know what on earth possessed you to do what you did. It could have had extreme consequences.

"There is only one opportunity for you now. Take it."

All the prison sentences - 18 months for Abdi, 16 months for Walker, 12 months for Joseph and 13-and-a-half months for Kelly - were suspended for two years.

They must each carry out 150 hours of unpaid work, attend 15 rehabilitation activity sessions, and pay £150 towards court costs within six months.

Abdi and Walker had been on remand since their arrests while Joseph and Kelly had been subject to qualifying tagged curfews.

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Region: United Kingdom

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