The UK’s most unusual cannabis farms? Or grow baby, grow…..
A man has been convicted of using a former nuclear bunker to grow more than 800 cannabis plants – but he is not the first to grow the illegal herb in a surprising location.
Drakelow Tunnels, in Worcestershire, were originally built to house an aircraft engine factory in World War Two, but in 2013 police uncovered plants with an estimated value of £650 000.
But what other strange locations have become gardens of eden, weeden?
Acting on a tip-off, police visited a luxury nine-bedroom country mansion in January and were no doubt taken aback by what they stumbled across.
Officers discovered at least 1,000 cannabis plants, at various stages of growth, in the £1m property on Wimblington Road in March, Cambridgeshire. Two men, a 33-year-old from Whitstable, in Kent, and a 30-year-old man from Twickenham, south-west London, were arrested on suspicion of producing cannabis and detained in custody.
Local media described the sprawling house as a once much-loved family home, with police comparing it to the place people take on for Grand Designs, not where you expect to see a highly professional cannabis factory”.
The shipping container (in a back garden):
Perhaps one of the UK’s most intrepid cannabis growers was Adrian James, from Nottingham. He set up a factory in a freight shipping container buried in his back garden in St Ann’s. The 43-year-old used a mechanical digger to bury the container and then dug a tunnel from his house to his garden, concealing the entrance with a board covered in tools. Inside the container, he set up hydroponics equipment with timer switches and an automatic watering system.
But he was arrested in October 2011 after officers recovered cannabis worth up to £86,000 from the container. He pleaded guilty to production of cannabis and was sentenced to three years in prison.
The office complex:
More than 4,000 plants were found growing in offices at a business centre, near Scunthorpe. Such was the scale of the cannabis factory, health and safety experts were called in to assess the possible danger to the public along with Ministry of Defence police with specialised equipment to assist with the plants’ disposal.
It took Humberside Police several days to clear out the £4m find on the Bellwin House Business Park.
Officers said a major drugs operation seemed to have been operating at night in two office suites next to legitimate businesses working during the day. “This is an unusual find in that it was a first-floor office complex which was occupied and being used by members of the public and staff at the business centre,” a spokesman said.
The offenders installed roller shutter doors to secure the entry and a very complex ventilation system to try to hide the smell of the plants.
‘Stoned’ pet gives game away:
Although finding a cannabis factory in a suburban street may not be too out of the ordinary, the way police were tipped off about one in Berkshire was. Officers were alerted to the £50,000 cannabis factory in home in Reading when a neighbour reported strong smells and noticed that her pet dog seemed to be “stoned”.
Valerie Bailey said she became suspicious about a month before police raided the property in Reading when her West Highland terrier Holly started to “sleep until mid-morning”.
She and her husband developed bad coughs and were forced to sleep in another room due to the smell and fumes from the plants, coming through a vent in their bedroom.
Mrs Bailey said she started to be suspicious when Holly started to need a lot of sleep. “I had a job getting her up in the morning, it was almost as though she was drugged, probably stoned.”