Jail over £60k cannabis farm

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POLICE officers uncovered a cannabis farm when they checked out industrial premises in Spilsby after spotting a light on late at night, Lincoln Crown Court was told this week.

Ninety-six plants were found growing inside a lean-to at the back of the building in Vale Road in the town with a further 63 plants in the toilet area.

Phil Howes, prosecuting, said the operation, run from the motor body works business of Richard Topliss, could potentially have produced cannabis with a street value of more than £60,000.

“There was the main growing area as well as a number of plants in a toilet in the office. The potential yield has been identified as 8.73 kgs.

“It was a significant and sophisticated operation. A bed was set up in the office with weapons including a baseball bat and a cosh.

“We say the defendant was the guardian of these items.”

Topliss claimed that he had rented out part of the building to a man he believed was a market trader.

Topliss, 27, of Tennyson Green, Skegness, admitted two charges of producing cannabis on 5 November 2010. He was jailed for two years.

Judge Michael Heath told him “Your role was a significant one. There has to be a custodial sentence in this case.”

David Eager, defending, said Topliss accepted an offer to rent out part of his premises for £200 a month to boost his income after his business was hit by the economic downturn.

“He thought the person was probably a market trader. It was only after he allowed it to happen that he realised what was going on.”