A MAN has been jailed after police discovered cannabis with a potential value of £2million during a raid at his address.

Carl Coles, 62, appeared at Dorchester Crown Court to face allegations that he produced the class B drug.

He admitted the offence on the basis that he had been the gardener and caretaker of the plants.

Prosecuting, Anita Gibson-Lee said officers estimated that the total yield of the 638 plants found in the raid last November was 50.18kg of cannabis, with a wholesale value of up to £630,000, or a street value of just over £2million, if the plants were harvested four times per year.

She said: “A search warrant was executed at the yard and six articulated lorry containers and three caravans were found.

“Four of the lorries were found to contain cannabis plants.

“This defendant was arrested at the scene and found to have keys to all six lorries.”

Coles had played a ‘significant role’ in the operation, she added.

But speaking on behalf of Coles, of Puddletown Road, Wareham, Mieko Bond told the court the defendant had ‘no operational or management role’ in producing the drugs.

She said: “It was involvement by exploitation. He needed a place to live and he was provided this opportunity to have the caravan on the site as long as he did the bidding of people who were fitter, younger, and highly organised.”

Miss Bond also told the court the value of the drugs could be less than calculated, depending on the condition of the plants and the amount of the more valuable female flowering heads.

Judge Roger Jarvis sentenced Coles to three years and ten months in prison. He said: “You have now admitted a very serious offence of the production of a very significant amount of cannabis.

“You were the gardener and you had certain duties for which you were given money and instructed to pay for rent and diesel.

“You also stopped and started the generators. You did not harvest the plants but you had the keys to the containers. In my judgement your role was significant in this operation.”

He added: “These figures give the court a clear indication of the scale of this operation and the success the police have achieved in removing this amount of drugs from the streets.

Police ‘Pleased’

SPEAKING after the hearing, officer in the case DC James Mullen said the sentence was a ‘fantastic deterrent’.

He added: “This was a highly organised and sophisticated operation of which Coles was a part, and I am very pleased with the outcome.”