July 23 2014 Latest news:
by Lizzie Dearden, Senior reporter
Saturday, March 22, 2014
A woman who says her mother-in-law’s house was turned into a cannabis factory by a tenant is furious police did not catch him when they had the chance.
Sharon Smith and her husband Stephen have rented out the bungalow in Clayhall since 87-year-old Marjorie moved into a nursing home.
They became suspicious last month when their new tenant could not be contacted and they went to check on the house in Stradbroke Grove.
Sharon said: “The locks had all been changed and there was thick black plastic on the windows.
“You could see condensation on the glass. Neighbours said they hadn’t seen anyone move in but they had seen different men milling around in the porch shirtless.”
The couple said they called police to warn them but were told as landlords it was their responsibility.
“I thought I was doing the right thing but they really weren’t interested,” Sharon said.
She says police did not visit and, days later, keys to the bungalow were handed back to the letting agents and the tenant disappeared. When the couple went into the house, they were horrified at what they saw.
“The irrigation system was still there – they had drilled holes through the walls and even wardrobes to put it in,” Sharon said.
“They had just taken as many of the plants as they could and ran but there was residue everywhere. My husband found two cannabis plants left behind the plastic sheeting.”
It is costing thousands of pounds to carry out repairs.
Sharon said: “It’s awful to see our mum’s house like that – knowing would probably kill her.”
When officers eventually visited the house, they told the couple no crime was being committed because the cannabis had been removed.
“Drugs are a serious problem and my call should have been taken seriously,” Sharon said. “If they had gone round when I first called they would have had them on a plate.”
A Redbridge Police spokesman said: “Upon police attendance there was no evidence of a cannabis factory and the owner was advised to use civil remedies for other matters.”
The driver of a Vauxhall Corsa which smashed into the barriers near the Moby Dick junction of the A12 has been arrested after one of his passengers died in the collision.