Plymouth pair who turned house into cocaine factory are sent to jail
TWO men who turned a house into a drug factory capable of producing vast quantities of cocaine have been jailed.
Marc Bonnage, 31, and Patrick Brennan, 25, placed a pressing machine in the kitchen of Bonnage's home in Sefton Avenue, Lipson.
Police raided the house in May this year, finding £178,000 worth of cocaine along with equipment used for producing the drug.
Plymouth Crown Court heard yesterday that the house had been equipped for the "substantial production and wide distribution of Class A drugs."
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Martin Steen, prosecuting, said: "On May 27 police made a visit to the house in Sefton Avenue where they found a ten-tonne press containing the fingerprints of both defendants and residue of cocaine and benzocaine."
Both men were arrested and interviewed but maintained their innocence until a pre-trial hearing in October, when they admitted one count each of conspiracy to supply cocaine.
The court heard Brennan was the leader of the operation, and that there was evidence of phone calls between the men and CCTV footage of them together.
Mr Steen said the machine had been in the house for about three weeks, but that Bonnage continued to deny any involvement.
"He said it was brought over by someone named 'PJ' and he knew nothing about the drugs until the police came through the door," Mr Steen said.
"He persisted in total ignorance as to the drugs and how they came to be there and said he had no involvement in the packing of the drugs in the way that the police discovered.
"Mr Bonnage plays a significant role by allowing his home to be used for production but I have to say that Mr Bonnage is perhaps the less severe of the two defendants."
David Evans, mitigating for Brennan, said he would find life difficult in jail as his mother, the only member of his family he is close to, recently emigrated to Australia.
"He is aware that he is unlikely to be visited by her, so it may be a slightly harder period in prison than it might have been," he said.
Nick Lewin, mitigating for Bonnage, said: "Clearly Mr Bonnage had a lesser role. To suggest that he has any greater culpability than that in the context of an operation of this scale is ludicrous.
"Mr Bonnage was very much being utilised as a man without previous convictions, a man who is likely to be a perfect foil to a man more sophisticated than he. He found himself in an enterprise that was far more than he could possibly have anticipated and far more than he could possibly deal with.
"Mr Bonnage is not a criminal, he is a stupid man. If every stupid man went to prison the prisons would be full to bursting."
Recorder Paul Darlow said: "When the police executed their search warrant on your property, Mr Bonnage, they came across a fledgling enterprise for a substantial cutting production and wide distribution of Class A drugs."
Brennan was jailed for eight years and Bonnage was given a sentence of four years and eight months.