Cannabis found in cottage bunker

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A sophisticated cannabis farm was found at a secluded cottage - uniquely hidden in an underground bunker beneath a shed.

A two tonne shipping container had been lowered into the ground and reached via a ladder beneath a wooden board in the shed above and disguised with adjacent overgrown vegetation.

It was found by chance when police called round at the premises, Morris Fold Cottage in Wigan Road, New Springs, about a suspected stolen caravan and began a search.

A total of 18 plants were found in the bunker with a potential street value of more than £8240 and about £1,500 worth of electricity had been abstracted to run it.

Jamie Gallagher, 24, claimed at Liverpool Crown Court that it was entirely his own enterprise which he had set up after using an excavator, buying the container and propagation equipment and seeds.

Gallagher, a former ground worker who now runs a skip firm, maintained it was his first crop and he had learnt how to grow cannabis by watching YouTube videos.

He said it was intended for his own use has he had a £30 a day cannabis addiction - but his account was rejected by the judge.

Jailing him for a total of 12 months Judge Andrew Hatton said that he had given perjured evidence.

The judge said: “You set about in a most sophisticated way the cultivation of cannabis for significant financial gain.”

Gallagher, who has no previous convictions, had pleaded guilty to cultivating cannabis and abstracting electricity.

Ben Jones, prosecuting, said police arrived at the premises on July 2 last year investigating a stolen caravan but while there found the cannabis farm, which was beneath a shed under a trap door, down a ladder and behind a secured metal door.

Inside the 20 foot by eight foot container was a ventilation shaft, a water system and electricity to power units and Gallagher’s fingerprints were found on some of the electrical equipment.

In his bedroom was a monitor for a CCTV system covering the whole premises which Gallagher claimed was to protect them from local gypsies and guard the crop.

Two dogs feared to be aggressive were seized by police during the raid.

He was found not guilty of handling a stolen caravan after the prosecution offered no evidence.