A WARRINGTON man who was operating a cannabis farm in Widnes has been jailed.
Charlie Cooper appeared at Liverpool Crown Court on Wednesday 29 November where he was sentenced to five years in prison.
The 28-year-old of Bruche Heath Gardens, Warrington, had pleaded guilty to Cannabis Cultivation and escaping lawful custody.
The case began on Monday 15 August after officers executed a warrant at an address on Hale Road, Widnes.
A large cannabis farm was found inside the address, consisting of 149 cannabis plants, and a man was arrested at the scene.
The man refused to answer any questions and was subsequently released on bail. His mobile phone was also seized and during analysis officers discovered a number of messages suggesting that he was looking after the plants on behalf of another person.
Following enquiries officers were able to link the messages to Charlie Cooper in Warrington. A warrant was executed at his former home on Padgate Lane on Friday 17 March where Cooper was arrested.
While searching the property officers discovered a safe containing a large amount of cash, along with further cash hidden behind the headboard. In total officers recovered £52,640.77.
After his arrests, Cooper was initially calm and compliant, therefore he was allowed to get dressed. However, he subsequently made off from officers and fled the address on foot.
Despite his initial attempts to evade officers, he subsequently handed himself in due to pressure from officers.
Cooper stated no comment throughout questioning, but as a result of the evidence gathered against him, he was charged in connection with the cannabis farm.
Following his sentencing, Police Constable Debra Jackson, of Widnes Local Policing Unit, said: “I welcome the sentence handed to Cooper and I hope that it provides reassurance to the local community.
“The negative impact that illegal drugs have on our communities are well known and were committed to doing all that we can to ensure that those responsible are held accountable for their actions and our battle against those who are involved in the production and supply of illegal drugs continues.
“Although Cooper is now behind bars, this is not the end, following his lengthy custodial sentence, we will now look to proceed with a POCA hearing to determine what will happen to the cash seized at his home.
“I urge anyone with any information about suspected drug related activity in their community to get in touch. You will be listened to, and we will investigate the matter.”
There are a number signs that could indicate that a property is being used as a cannabis farm, including:
• A strong and sickly sweet smell
• Equipment to grow cannabis being taken into a property, such as lighting and ventilation equipment
• Constantly covered or blocked-off windows – cannabis farms often have constantly closed curtains, black-out blinds or foil coverings
• People coming and going at all hours or neighbours you never see
• Strong and constant lighting day and night
• High levels of heat and condensation – cannabis farms often give off heat and the windows stay misted up
• A constant buzz of ventilation – listen out for a whirring sound as the growers try to create an ideal climate for cannabis plants to grow.
• Lots of power cables – offenders often dig underground to lay cables that hook up to things like lamp posts so they do not have to pay for the enormous amounts of electricity they use.
To report a suspected cannabis farm or any other type of drug-related offence, call us 101, give the details via the website or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.