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Four jailed over Southampton Riverside Park failed cannabis raid

Four members of a drugs gang have been jailed for their part in a failed raid on a cannabis factory, after which a man was found dead in a river.

Police were called following reports of gun fire in River Walk, Southampton early on 5 September 2019.

Sol Hemy, 20 was later found drowned in the nearby River Itchen.

The four previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit burglary and possession of a firearm with intent.

It is thought the raid was detected and two cars arrived quickly before a stand off began with shouting and shots fired.

Southampton Crown Court heard the raiders found the gun inside the cannabis factory and had decided to use it to defend themselves.

Police later found a cannabis factory set up in a residential property with more than 100 cannabis plants with a wholesale value of more than ВЈ25,000.

A large amount of cannabis was also found abandoned in waste bags outside in the street.

• Robert Johnston, 25 of Tennyson Avenue, Southampton was jailed for five years and four months.

• Fardeen Hamidy, 26, of Bursledon Road, Southampton received a sentence of eight years and eight months.

• Christy Flaherty, 27, of Malmesbury Road, Southampton was jailed for eight years.

• Ken Mulangala, 18, of East Street, Barking, Essex received a three-year sentence.

The court heard it is still not known how Mr Hemy met his death and the police investigation is continuing.

Passing sentence, Judge Henry said it had been an “audacious” plan to steal from a rival drugs gang.

“What is clear the defendants were prepared to use extreme and dangerous methods not only to evade …. but also to continue to take the spoils of the operation with them.

“The sad death of this young man is evidence of the level of violence of high stakes gang warfare being played out that night on a residential street in Southampton.”

Det Insp Andy Symes said the raid had been “terrifying” for neighbouring residents.

“This group of young men decided they would try and steal a large amount of cannabis, for their own gain, on a residential street, without any regard for the rest of the community and how their actions would affect others.”

Police responded to reports of gunshots and found cannabis plants and a body.