POLICE uncovered a ‘cannabis factory’ holding plants with an estimated value of £100,000 after the site supervisor smelled the drug in one of his units, a court has been told.
A total of 164 adult plants and 30 saplings were discovered in the industrial unit on Mosley Street, Burton, when officers swooped in September 2012.
Experts believe the plants had a potential harvest of up to 17 kilograms of cannabis, with a street value of up to £99,500.
Today, Nathan Roberts, 23, admitted producing cannabis on September 30, 2012.
He was handed an eight month prison sentence, suspended for two years, and ordered to complete 200 hours’ unpaid work.
Stafford Crown Court heard that a man was instructed to look inside the unit when the supervisor first suspected the drug may be being produced there, but the upstairs door was padlocked and the man was told the key was not available.
Richard Davenport, prosecuting, said that when the man returned with bolt cutters, three men ran away from the unit and made off in a VW car.
When police arrived, they found cannabis plants up to four-feet tall.
Forensic examination of equipment in the unit recovered two sets of fingerprints.
One of those belonged to Roberts, of Merton Close, Church Gresley.
He was arrested on January 30, last year, but made no comment to questions asked by police officers, Mr Davenport told the court.
The court heard he pleaded guilty to his involvement on the basis of helping to set up the equipment.
Judge Mark Eades told him: “You must have known from the size of the unit this wasn’t some fly-by-night enterprise.
“It was a commercial operation.
“The Crown does accept yours was a lesser role.”