Plush rural Preston address suffered £15,000 damage by criminals who converted it into a drugs farm

A cannabis farm housed in an executive rural home was rumbled when suspicious neighbours reported the strong smell of cannabis coming from the address.

Hillcrest - a property on Cumeragh Lane in Whittingham, near Preston, is worth more than half a million pounds - but it was trashed and transformed into a rural cannabis factory, Preston Crown Court was told.

Cumeragh Lane

Cumeragh Lane

The people behind the plantation caused £15,000 of damage in an attempt to convert it and bypass the electricity supply.

Paul Nuttall, 53, of Blackpool Road, Lea, admitted cultivating cannabis and criminal damage.

Paul Cummings, prosecuting, said: “ In August the landlord and owner was contacted by neighbours of that address to say they could smell cannabis coming from the house.

The owner then contacted police. He made his own inquiries on August 18 and the following day police came with him to the property and although the locks had been changed the police were able to force their way into the property to discover there was a cannabis farm.”

The court heard the main growing area was in one of the bedrooms which contained reflective lamps, a large extractor, an industrial dehumidifier, and large pouches of organic compounds and plant pots.

Loose leaf cannabis was strewn around on the floor and items of clothing were taped to the windows.

Officers saw electrical transformers on the walls feeding from one socket.

Mr Cummings added: “ There were juvenile plants under the stairs and other places where cannabis was being stored.

“There was extensive damage to the property.

The drugs found were valued at up to £10,000.

The house has been left with damage to its roof structure, electricity meter, lighting, and carpets and the final bill could reach £30,000.

Defending, Anthony Parkinson said: “The defendant says he was brought into this enterprise by other people who know him, know of his previous convictions and know he is able to grow cannabis.

He was brought in to be a gardener and received a wage of £500 a week, but he was not the person responsible for supplying this cannabis onwards.

“He accepts the damage caused as a consequence of setting up the cultivation.”

Nuttall was jailed for 23 months.

In 2007 a massive cannabis factory was found in another posh property, this time a mansion on D'Urton Lane in Broughton.

READ MORE: Record-breaking cannabis haul at mansion