A FATHER and son who masterminded an organised criminal gang which netted £2 million a year supplying cannabis across Runcorn have been ordered to pay back thousands by the courts.

Stephen McDonagh, aged 47, and his son, Michael, aged 24, both from Runcorn, were convicted as part of Operation Gram, in March, 2013, the biggest crackdown on cannabis ever mounted by Cheshire Police.

Around 300 officers were involved in dawn raids in September, 2012.

At separate hearings, a judge agreed that both men had each benefited from their crimes to the sum of £200,000.

Available assets of more than £12,000 have already been identified in relation to the pair and they have been ordered to pay that amount immediately. They will owe the remaining sum to the courts for the rest of their lives until they can repay the full amount.

A gang of 28 men and two juveniles were sentenced to more than 50 years.

Stephen, of Mevagissey Road, Brookvale, admitted conspiracy to supply cannabis and was jailed for four years and three months. Michael, of Rembury Place, Dutton, admitted conspiracy to supply cannabis and two charges of supplying cocaine and was sentenced to five years and three years imprisonment.

Det Sgt Donna Pearson, from Cheshire Constabulary′s Financial Investigation Unit, said: "The Proceeds of Crime Act allows us to recoup a criminals' profits from crime. In cases such as Steven and Michael McDonagh, this legislation allows us to put a value not only on the crime that they have been convicted of but on all of their income and assets held over several years.

"The confiscation order remains payable until it is settled in full. Whilst they may not have assets to that value and cannot pay the order in full at this time, we will ensure that every penny is paid back to society, no matter how long that takes.

"By doing so, we ensure that criminals do not get to enjoy their profits from crime once they have served any sentence. “Confiscating criminal′s assets ensures that they cannot use their ill-gotten gains to further their criminal enterprises and helps keep the communities of Cheshire safe.”

Det Sgt Ian Allen, from the Proactive Policing Team, said: "This group made large amounts of money from their criminal activity whilst causing many residents of Runcorn to suffer violence, threats of violence and anti-social behaviour. Information from the local community undoubtedly assisted the police in the successful conclusion of this case.

"This latest result demonstrates what the police can do to those who become involved in crime and profit as a result. Both Stephen McDonagh and his son Michael McDonagh now owe the sum of £200,000 each and we will endeavour to recover this.

"We have already taken assets valued at over £12,000 from the pair. The Financial Investigation Unit can conduct updated financial checks on people and, if further assets or the means to pay is identified in the future, then they will be taken back to court.

"This should serve as a warning to others that crime really does not pay. The message is clear - if you involve yourself in drug related activity then you run the risk of not only being sent to prison but also having to pay back any money that you may have benefited from as a result of your crime."