Suburban house with a secret: a £240k cannabis factory
- Credit: DANIEL MOXTON
A “well-appointed” Norwich house kept a dark secret behind its front door - a £240,000 cannabis factory.
The three-bedroomed house on Guardian Road was the base for an operation that produced 600 plants, as thousands of drivers passed each day, oblivious.
On Friday, the farm’s “gardener”, Arturas Nikitinas, appeared at Norwich Crown Court for sentencing, having admitted production of cannabis.
The court heard police raided the property in May and found 59-year-old Nikitinas tending the 600 plants.
John Morgans, prosecuting, said it was a professional set up with four rooms used for growing the plants, which were in various stages of maturity.
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He said there was heating and lighting and the factory was capable of producing a significant quantity of cannabis for commercial use.
He said that Nikitinas told police he was put under pressure by others after being taken from Lithuania to the UK and made to work in the cannabis factory.
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Nikitinas admitted production of cannabis from January 1 until May 6.
The court heard that he was to be deported after serving his sentence and was keen to return home to his wife and five children.
Judge Anthony Bate jailed him for nine months.
He said the factory had been set up in a “well-appointed” property in Norwich and added: “There is little from the outside to attract the curiosity of the many motorists who have driven right past it on the outer ring road. However when you look more closely you can see windows are shielded.”
He accepted that Nikitinas had been put under pressure to work as a gardener at the cannabis factory and said: “The organisers of this factory were careful to distance themselves from it.”
Ian James, for Nikitinas, said he came to the UK in January with the promise of earning money in the construction industry.
Instead he was taken to Guardian Road to tend the cannabis plants and told he had to do this to pay off the debt of being brought to the UK.
“He is desperate to go home. He said he was never going to leave Lithuania again. This has been a salutary experience for him.”
He said Nikitinas was given no financial reward, adding: “All he wants is to go back to living a normal life in Lithuania.”