Cannabis growers 'caught red handed' in Cinderford factory
CANNABIS growers were caught “red handed” when police discovered a drugs factory in a Cinderford saw mill.
Gloucester Crown Court heard Raymond Harris and Alan Evans were found there after suspicious neighbours saw them at the building they believed to be derelict on April 22.
Both men pleaded guilty to being concerned in the production of cannabis after officers discovered 100 plants, which could have yielded 5.45 kg of cannabis.
Prosecutor Julian Kesner said the saw mill had, unbeknown to the neighbours, been rented out in February of that year by a man who said he wanted to use it to store timber. The electricity had also been turned back on.
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He said: “Inside it the police found the two defendants. It had 100 well cared for cannabis plants and the room had been set up with a heating and ventilation system.
“The plants were being grown under powerful lights.
“I can also say, with some confidence, this was probably the growth in the mill.
“Having duped a landlord and duped Npower to reconnect the electricity, they then bypassed it.”
The court heard Harris of Barlow Hill Crescent, Bristol had helped set up the factory and was acting as a gardener to pay off a debt.
Defending for Harris, Edward Hetherington, said the affects had been catastrophic for the 36-year-old’s family.
The father-of-five was unable to work as a plasterer because of a degenerative back injury and was paying off his debts by looking after the drugs.
Defending Evans, Kannan Siva, said the 31-year-old of Long Cross, Bristol, had been bought in to help look after the plants and had been to the factory just twice.
He said: “He became involved in this through a foolish sense of loyalty rather than anything else.
“He has lost his job as a result of this and it has been extremely difficult for his family.
“His wife has taken two full time jobs to support the family.”
Judge Jamie Tabor QC jailed Harris for two years for his part in the factory and breaching a suspended sentence for theft.
He told him: “In some ways this is a sad case. You had a chequered past, but you stayed out of trouble for a long time.
“You got employment and you provided for your family like a man should.
“But you lost your job and you became vulnerable to a person who you should not have been mixing with in the first place.”
The judge told Evans, a father-of-three, he had less excuse than Harris.
He said: “You are fit, able bodied, in employment and there was no need for you to go to that cannabis factory and lend a hand at all – you could have so easily said no.
“You have got a young family. You wife is now struggling and at breaking point from working hard because you have been an idiot.”
He gave Evans a 15 months prison sentence, suspended for two years, and made him comply with a six month curfew from 8pm to 6am.
He was also ordered to carry out 120 hours unpaid work and pay £250 costs as well as a victim surcharge.