Cannabis factory was found behind Stourport pub

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TWO men have been given jail sentences after a cannabis factory was uncovered in a garage at the back of a Stourport pub.

Police found the double garage at the back of The Steps House in Gilgal, had been converted into a factory growing cannabis with a potential street value of £91,000, Worcester Crown Court heard yesterday.

Mark Flack, 32, of Dwellings View, Brierley Hill, West Midlands, was jailed immediately for two and a half years and 54-year-old Kevin Fletcher, the landlord of The Steps House, who lives on the premises, received a 12-month sentence suspended for 18 months. Both had pleaded guilty to being involved in the production of the Class B drug.

Stephen Davies said police raided the garage on April 26 last year and found two tents inside with 145 plants capable of producing 9.1 kilograms with a sophisticated growing system. Fletcher told them he had rented the garage to two men in December, 2012 for £100 a month, who had said they were going to use it for car repairs.

He later revealed he had discovered the cannabis two weeks before the raid and had told them to leave but had accepted £1,000 to let them stay a short time longer, Mr Davies said.

Flack was present when the factory was set up but had been working under instructions from the other man, who was not in court. He was paid in cannabis for his own use and police found 4.6 grams worth £446 at his home.

Niall Skinner, defending Flack, said he was a hard-working family man, whose partner was expecting their third child next month. He had no explanation for why he had got involved apart from "stupidity."

"He did not need to get involved," Mr Skinner said. "He has never been in trouble before and it is likely he will never be in trouble again."

Abigail Nixon, defending Fletcher, said he had been in the pub trade for 20 years and had bought the lease to The Steps House. He had put his livelihood and his home at risk because he had been stupid enough to get involved to "make a quick buck" but he had never received the £1,000.

A conviction would not automatically result in him losing his licence but it was due up for renewal next year, she said.

Judge Robert Juckes, QC, said Flack had played a more significant role in the production.

He said Fletcher, as a landlord, had a position of responsibility and a degree of influence in the community, who had taken the £1,000 offer to "keep his mouth shut."

Fletcher was also ordered to do 250 hours unpaid work and they were ordered to pay costs of £600 each.

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