A CRIMINAL who ran a cannabis factory will be forced to pay thousands of pounds after police identified his offshore bank accounts.

Brendan Kavanagh was convicted at Bournemouth Crown Court in April 2012 for production of cannabis, and sentenced to three years in prison, after officers stumbled upon 135 plants on an industrial estate.

The plants had a street value of up to £37,000, as well as a hydroponic watering system.

Following the 47-year-old’s conviction, officers from Dorset Police’s Economic Crime Unit launched a confiscation invest-igation and on March 14 this year a Confiscation Order was made by a judge at Bournemouth Crown Court.

During the process, Kavanagh, of Hesketh Close, St Ives, Ringwood, told officers he had no assets.

But an investigation led by the Economic Crime Unit identified offshore bank accounts.

Kavanagh then claimed he had spent all of the money held overseas, but the court rejected his argument, and he has been ordered to pay £125,248.07 under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 within the next six months.

If he fails to pay he will serve a two-year default custodial sentence, after which he will still owe the debt.

Detective Sergeant Andrew Kennard, of the Economic Crime Unit, said: “This case sends out a very clear message to offenders that they will be forced to hand over the illegal earnings made from their criminal activity.”

During his sentencing two years ago, a court heard that the last electricity bill for the unit at the Maple Business Park on Ferndown Industrial Estate had been between £800 and £900.

The unit had been rented for £3,000 a year by Kavanagh, who admitted producing the drug.

Judge Samuel Wiggs told him: “You were running a substantial factory for the production of cannabis. It may have been financed by others but you had a significant role.”