Published: 13:25, 16 August 2020
| Updated: 12:22, 17 August 2020
Bungling police stormed an antique furniture store by mistake during a series of drug raids – causing almost £2,000 worth of damage.
Furious owner David Bracewell states he will sue the force after 12 officers searched the building in Hythe Road, Ashford, on Wednesday morning.
The 72-year-old says he received a call at about 8.45am saying police had surrounded the premises, called Bracewell's Vintage & Design, and that it looked like there had been a burglary.
But when the septuagenarian arrived at the shop, all he found was a wooden board standing in place of its front door and a copy of the warrant on his desk.
“When I got there, my next-door neighbour informed me that the police had raided my shop,” Mr Bracewell said.
“There were 12 of them and a Black Mariah, and they stormed the building.
"I can’t tell you how disgusted I am with Kent Police; I’m absolutely distraught.
“My wife and I feel as if we’ve been attacked.
"To feel like Margaret, who is 71, and I are drug dealers is totally irresponsible.
“If they’d used their brains, they could have come the day before, as I was working 10am until 4pm, and seen there was no cannabis farm here.”
Mr Bracewell has not been able to reopen the shop since the raid as he continues to wait for a replacement door to be fitted.
Supt Mick Gardner says officers had been told that cannabis may be growing at the property - but the information was found to be “inaccurate” when they entered the address.
He also stresses the police have apologised to Mr Bracewell and will be paying for the damage caused to his shop, which he has been running for 40 years.
Despite this, the retailer insists that he wants to take the force to court.
“I’m looking to sue them,” Mr Bracewell continued.
“There’s no way they can get away with doing this to a totally innocent member of the public.
“We’ve been here for 40 years and have a really good reputation.
"It could have ruined my reputation as people could have thought there’s no smoke without fire and that I’m a drug dealer.
“I haven’t slept for about three nights, and nor has my wife, thinking the police could have thought that about us.
"We have apologised to the owner of the property..."
“It’s a total abuse of power. What evidence they did have must have been false – and if that’s not bad enough, they believed it.”
Detectives seized about £40,000 in cash, a £100,000 car and hundreds of cannabis plants.
Since then, they have also charged 11 people with conspiracy to supply Class B drugs.
But Supt Gardner added: “A property in Ashford was among those targeted as we had information to suspect cannabis may be being grown there.
“We have apologised to the owner of the property and will be paying for the damage caused to his front door.
“We receive legal authority from the courts to carry out hundreds of search warrants every year and it is rare that properties are incorrectly targeted.”
On Friday afternoon, police found 230 cannabis plants at a detached home in Oakfield Road, Kennington.
Timh Tran, 39, of no fixed address, was arrested at the scene and has since been charged with being concerned in the production of cannabis, and with abstracting electricity.
He was remanded in custody when he appeared before Medway magistrates yesterday.