A businessman caught growing cannabis in an underground bunker at his potato farm in Staffordshire has been jailed for 15 months.
Police discovered more than 40 plants when they carried out a search raid at J & M Potatoes.
When owner Paul Harrison was confronted by officers he said: “I know why you’re here.” Miss Joanne Barker, prosecuting, told Stafford Crown Court that Harrison led them to what appeared to be a chicken shed, shuttered and padlocked, on the farm in Acton Trussell, near Stafford.
Inside was a tunnel leading underground to what they described as a cannabis factory. In one chamber were 17 young cannabis plants and in another part of the bunker were a further 26 plants nearing maturity, together with a set of scales and some plastic bags.
Power for the growing apparatus was coming from an undetected electricity meter. The estimated yield was put at 90 ounces with a street value of £8,000.
Harrison, aged 34, of St Paul’s Crescent, Pelsall, Walsall, admitted cultivating cannabis. A separate charge of abstracting electricity, which he denied, was allowed to lie on file.
Judge Patrick Thomas QC told him yesterday: “You didn’t just fall in to this crime. Having acquired the kit, you have a place in which to grow cannabis which was precisely conducive to avoiding detection.”
Miss Barker said that following the police search on June 10 last year, Harrison claimed all the cannabis was for his own use, however the Crown rejected his story.
David Hemming, defending, said Harrison took over the family business supplying potatoes in the Wolverhampton, Stafford and Stoke areas following his father’s death in 2007.
He said: “This had a dramatic effect on him. After the relationship with his long term partner broke down, he became involved with people who put him in this situation and he is carrying the can for them.