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Burton drug farm unearthed due to leak in the roof

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: July 06, 2014

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A CANNABIS factory was discovered when water began leaking through the roof of a block of flats in Burton.

One of the residents in Ashley Court went to investigate the flat on the floor above, found the drug growing set up and phoned the police, Stafford Crown Court heard.

Inside the flat were a total of 25 adult plants and 42 seedlings which could have yielded cannabis with a potential street value of up to £11,250.

Fiona Cortese, prosecuting, said the flat had been rented out in March last year.

After police had left the flat on September 2 last year, residents reported a white van seen visiting the premises. The van was subsequently traced to Alexander Hayes, a previously convicted drug offender, who had supplied the hydroponic equipment in the flat.

Hayes, 29, of Pipers Way, Burton was given a nine month prison sentence suspended for two years after admitting being concerned in the production of cannabis.

In a basis of plea, Hayes said he was offered the hydroponic equipment at a cheap price intending to sell it on at a profit, but allowed a friend to use it and gave him advice about growing cannabis.

Recorder Christopher Goodchild told him: “What you did was help a friend set up, with your equipment, a cannabis plant that would have produced a substantial amount of cannabis.”

The court heard that Hayes had several previous convictions for drug offences and in 2009 was jailed for 16 months for producing cannabis.

Miss Cortese said a bedroom in the flat contained 16 plants with fans and extractors and nine in another room, all 8 to 10 weeks away from maturity.

Hayes’s fingerprints were found on one of the fans and on a bag of fertiliser.

When questioned, Hayes said he had been a guarantor for the tenant of the flat and had gone to see him on September 2. He claimed he had no idea cannabis was being grown there.

Nicholas Smith, defending, said: “He supplied the equipment. He knew what was going on and expected to receive some cannabis in return. This was a very stupid thing to do.”

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