Cannabis factory man gets suspended term

A LOWESTOFT man who acted as a caretaker for a cannabis factory where drugs were being produced on a 'massive scale' was this week given a suspended prison sentence.

Unemployed Arron Roberts, 23, had been keeping watch on 788 cannabis plants which were found during a police raid at a building in Whapload Road, Lowestoft.

Officers from the Territorial Support Team were involved in the raid on Saturday, January 14, recovering cannabis with a potential street value of more than �300,000 and arresting Roberts who was living in a caravan at the site.

At the time of the raid, a Suffolk police spokesman told The Journal it was a drugs operation on a 'massive scale.'

Roberts, of Stanley Street, was charged in July and first appeared at Lowestoft Magistrates Court in September.

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After pleading guilty to being involved in the production of cannabis at Ipswich Crown Court last Friday, he was warned by Judge David Goodin that the offence was serious he was likely to lead to a custodial sentence.

But when Roberts reappeared in court on Wednesday, he was sentenced to 14 months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months. He was also made subject to an 18-month supervision order and ordered to carry out 240 hours of unpaid work.

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Speaking after the case, Det Sgt Karl Storey, of the Lowestoft-based Territorial Support Team, told The Journal: 'Police attended premises in Whapload Road about 10.30am on Saturday, January 14 to execute a warrant but initially couldn't find an entrance to the property.

'Officers managed to get into the building and during the course of the search found the doorway had been bricked up and the only way in was a tunnel under the floorboards. Roberts was found in part of the building near a caravan, which he was living in, and he was arrested.

'We initially estimated that there were about 400 plants but, when counted, there were more than 780, including just over 100 seedlings, and we also seized plant pots, lighting equipment, transformers and wiring.

'The plants were lined up in rows at each stage of maturity and it's thought the crop would have realised a street value in excess of �300,000.'

He added: 'This was clearly a major set up for Lowestoft and we are pleased we were able to stop this reaching the chain of supply.

'We would urge residents to remain vigilant and to report any suspicions about drug supply or production as we rely on information being provided to us to tackle this issue, which is often linked to other criminality.'

?If you have information or concerns about any suspicious behaviour, contact Lowestoft police on 101.

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