Farm owner found guilty of cannabis farm charges

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ELEVEN men were convicted on Friday of the large-scale production of cannabis at a farm near Castle Bytham.

The cannabis ‘factory’ was described by police at the time as ‘potentially the largest ever found in the UK.’

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The farm’s owner Iain Brown, 60, from Chichester, Sussex, was convicted of conspiracy to produce and supply cannabis after a two-month trial at Stafford Crown Court.

His son Bruce Brown, 31, from Castle Bytham, was found not guilty of conspiracy to supply and produce cannabis.

Ten other men, mainly from Staffordshire and the West Midlands, were convicted of charges relating to the cannabis, nine had admitted the charges. One was acquitted.

The police raid on the farm on Wednesday, September 8 2010, uncovered a complex set-up in barns, which were around the size of two football pitches, with a potential annual cannabis yield worth around £2.75 million.

As well as over 800 cannabis plants, officers discovered 1,600 empty buckets prepared for drug cultivation. The barns had undergone extensive adaptation – costing around £1.4 million – with generators, fans, lighting and ventilation equipment installed.

Inspector Andy Ham from Lincolnshire Police, who was working with Staffordshire Police on Operation Nemesis when they discovered the farm, was amazed by the scale of ‘factory’.

He told the Journal at the time: “We have all been involved in dealing with cannabis farms in the past but nobody who has been here has seen anything of the scale of this ever before.

“It’s quite possible that this would have been the largest ever recorded cannabis factory in the UK.”

The farm was discovered after a five-month long investigation by Staffordshire Police.

Detective Chief Inspector Jane Hewett, from Staffordshire Police, said: “This organised crime group, who had criminal links nationwide, was setting up one of the country’s biggest cannabis factory set-ups.

“This court result sends another clear message to people who are foolish enough to even think of dealing in drugs in Staffordshire: you will not get away with it.”

The men will be sentenced at a later date.