Mid Wales

Llangoedmor man jailed over £200,000 cannabis crop

Cannabis plants
Image caption Nearly 1,000 cannabis plants were found in a barn in Llangoedmor, near Cardigan

A businessman has been jailed for three years after he grew a £200,000 cannabis crop as a sideline.

Michael James set up a "sophisticated, large scale conveyor belt system" at the holiday cottage complex he helped to run, Swansea Crown Court heard.

Police found nearly 1,000 cannabis plants inside a converted barn at Pencraig Farm in Llangoedmor, near Cardigan.

James, 56, admitted producing cannabis plant material.

He also admitted possessing cannabis plant material with intent to supply, and illegally extracting electricity.

John Lloyd, prosecuting, told Swansea Crown Court how police armed with a search warrant raided the farm on 7 April last year.

They found a barn divided into three rooms and 937 cannabis plants of varying degrees of maturity, the court heard.

In one room police found a nursery with three "mother plants" and 556 younger plants.

Mr Lloyd said the operation consumed £1,000 worth of electricity a month, although James had bypassed the meter.

The potential harvest was 25 kilos with a street value of £200,000.

After his arrest, Mr Lloyd said James told police he was the only person involved in the scheme and that his family had been unaware of what he had done.

Police are carrying out a proceeds of crime investigation and may apply to the courts for an order confiscating some of James' assets.

Cannabis operation

Frank Phillips, defending, said he was a builder by trade and had branched out into growing cannabis after reading how to do it on the internet.

"He has lost everything, including his good name. He accepts it was a sophisticated and large scale operation but he had not actually harvested any cannabis," added Mr Phillips.

Judge Paul Thomas said the idea that James had not had a buyer lined up "flew in the face of common sense".

There was no way, he added, that James had planned to sell 25 kilos of cannabis "in little plastic bags on the streets of Cardigan".

He said it was inconceivable that anyone would invest such money and time in a cannabis operation without having someone to sell it to.