SIX men have been jailed for stealing drugs from a huge Essex cannabis factory, where a man was found dead.

Cannabis worth £2.5million was found growing at the factory in South Woodham Ferrers, but a court heard yesterday the amount stolen will probably never be known.

Cannabis was left at the scene and a trail of the drugs led from the roof of the industrial units where the gang broke in down to a yard below. The body of Vietnamese national Tran Duy Hai was also found at the site, in Redhills Road.

Police think the father of two, 38, found on the floor of the building, may have been a live-in gardener looking after the plants.

He died after falling through a skylight, but the reasons for his death are still a mystery.

Chelmsford Crown Court also heard the gang may have left the scene in a hurry after they were caught by those looking after the illegal growing operation.

They left behind piles of cannabis on plastic sheets and pruners used to harvest the drug.

Judge Rodger Hayward Smith QC said: “This was a highly planned operation involving men, vehicles and equipment.”

He jailed the six men for a total of just under 20 years.

Peter Gair, prosecuting, said seven thousand cannabis plants were growing in the units, with an estimated value of £2.5million.

The thieves broke in through the roof of the two units on December 9, 2010, before cutting and pruning the cannabis plants, piling it up on plastic sheets and removing it via the roof.

Police were alerted after staff arriving for work at other units, at about 5am, reported suspicious activity involving vehicles.

When the body of Mr Hai was found, a full investigation was launched.

DNA checks and fingerprints left on items at the scene, as well as CCTV and number plate recognition technology, led police to the six men.

They all admitted charges of conspiracy to burgle and conspiracy to supply cannabis when they appeared in court.

Mr Gair told the court there was no evidence to connect any of the men to Mr Hai’s death.

Defence barristers for the six men told the court they were not the organisers of the burglary.

Serving a total of 20 years in prison THE jailed men are: l Deco Mohamoud, 26, of Wellington Road, West Ham, was jailed for three years l Khadar Yussef, 24, of Bridge Road, Stratford, received a two-year jail sentence l Daniel Kelleher, 25, of Dartfields, Romford, was jailed for two years and three months l Nicky Sherman, 27, of Slewins Close, Hornchurch, was jailed for five years l Anthony Morrisson, of Olive Road, Plaistow, received a four-and-a-half year prison sentence l Mohamed Ibrahim, 25, from William Morley Close, Plaistow, was jailed for two-and-a-half years and received another ten weeks to be served consecutively for breaching terms of a suspended sentence imposed for an assault on a taxi driver At a hearing last year, Abdi Hassan, 23, of Park Grove, Stratford, was jailed for three years after he admitted a burglary charge in connection with the raid.

Terry Sherman, 30, of no fixed address, was charged with conspiracy to burgle and conspiracy to supply drugs. He will appear in court at a later date.

Hunt for wanted man

POLICE are looking for Stephen Morrisson in connection with the death of the man found on the floor of the cannabis factory.

Morrisson has been described by police as dangerous and should not be approached by members of the public.

Morrisson, 22, is approximately 5ft 8ins tall and of slim build. He has a number of tattoos on his left arm, including one of a baby’s face.

He is known to associate with people in Essex and East London.

Anyone who is aware of his whereabouts is urged to contact Essex Police on 999, or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.