Essex: Man jailed for role in Ardleigh cannabis factory with almost 3,000 plants
A man has been jailed after police discovered a cannabis factory at the farm where he lived.
Officers found the set-up at the Ardleigh home of Anthony Davis on August 8 while searching for a different man after they noticed a smell of cannabis.
Three barns at Newbridge Farm, in Fox Street, were used to cultivate the drug, including one used as a nursery for younger plants.
A total of 2,910 plants, including 891 younger plants, were found, as well as 27.7kilos of packaged ready-to-sell cannabis.
Essex Police arrested Davis, 48, when he returned to his bungalow on the farm later that evening.
When stopped he had £1,120 on him in cash.
Chelmsford Crown Court heard today how the factory was a capable of producing significant amounts of cannabis for commercial use, with the operation bordering on industrial-scale.
Samantha Lowther, prosecuting, revealed Davis had been jailed for a year back in 2011 for cultivating 50 plants in Rainham, Essex.
She told the court how two plots in one of the barns had recently been harvested, and police believed this was what had made the vacuum-packed ready-to-sell cannabis packages.
A search of Davis’ bungalow revealed receipts detailing large cash payments into his bank account, Mrs Lowther added.
Elizabeth Bradshaw, mitigating, said: “He was aware his property was being used and had some role, but there was an amount of pressure put upon him in relation to that.
“The people who are truly in control of this type of production keep themselves well away from any paper trail. This was clearly a scenario where there were others involved.
“But he has concerns about helping investigators because of the safety of his family.”
Davis, an unemployed engineer, had no partner or children but was close to his sister, the court heard.
Miss Bradshaw also asked that credit be given for his early guilty plea.
Judge David Turner QC, sentencing, said: “AS you are aware the cour takes a serious view of people who cultivate cannabis. You know this because back in 2011 you were sentenced to a term of imprisonment for doing precisely this.
“Regrettably you seem to have chosen to return to cannabis production, this time on a very significant scale indeed.
“This was production on an extremely significant, commercial, well-organised scale.
“Miss Bradshaw says you came under some pressure, but the reality is you knew exactly what this involved and you allowed your premises to be used for this sophisticated operation.
“I suspect you and or other people up the chain were destined to make very significant profit indeed.”
The estimated value of the cannabis was not revealed in court.
Judge Turner sentenced Davis to three years and four months in prison, of which he must serve at least half. He also ordered the forfeiture and destruction of the plants and growing equipment.
The judge made no order for costs but did set a timetable for a Proceeds of Crime hearing, scheduled to take place early next year.