Chapel St Leonards cannabis farmer is jailed after drone find

JAILED: Mark Lovell
JAILED: Mark Lovell

A police drone played a key role in an operation which led to a cannabis farmer from Chapel St Leonards being jailed.

Mark Lovell, 54, of Anderby Road, was sentenced to three years last week at Lincoln Crown Court after admitting a charge of producing cannabis.

The drone footage captured by Lincolnshire Police

The drone footage captured by Lincolnshire Police

His ‘professional cannabis operation’ was discovered after police carried out searches by a police drone.

Lovell last week admitted a charge of producing cannabis at Lincoln Crown Court.

Police’s drone unit give an insight into the operation which today saw Mark Lovell (54) of Anderby Road, Chapel St Leonards, jailed for three years for producing cannabis.

Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones said: “I’m delighted to see yet another fantastic example of the impact drones can have on our operational capability.

“The investment in this equipment has already proved its worth in its cost effectiveness and in its ability to help our front-line officers keep our communities safe.”

Officers carried out a scouting mission last October, and as a result of evidence captured by the drone, found what was described as a professional cannabis growing operation which could produce more than £50,000 worth of the drug.

The police drone unit’s Inspector Ed Delderfield said:“We had received information that this man was potentially growing cannabis.

“Where this man lived was surrounded by trees and bushes, so it was actually like a compound. Our intelligence officers spoke with our drone operators and asked if our drone’s thermal imaging could help – we agreed this could work and started our operation at 2am one morning.

“We turned up and flew the drone 400ft across an open field, before hovering 50m from the property. The heat source was obvious and we scrolled through our different filters to highlight the ‘heat’ in a number of different spectrums. The filming from the drone took one minute and 20 seconds, and it was only in the air for five minutes from start to finish.

“From here we passed the footage on to the investigating team who used this to get a court warrant for the first time in Lincolnshire.

“It was great to be able to show this evidence in court as it provides a visual that couldn’t really have been done in any other way. Admittedly, the NPAS helicopter could have done this, but this would have been at a cost of about £3,000 per hour, and we did this as part of our routine duties. All we had to do is charge the drone up!

“We have 10 drone operators within Lincolnshire Police and we are all ecstatic with this result and it is a vindication of the support we have had from our Police and Crime Commissioner and Chief Constable to get this successful prosecution.

“For our pilots this is job satisfaction personified and we will have five more pilots within out ranks before the summer is out.”

Lincolnshire Police currently has two drones with thermal imaging capability.