A SEMI-DETACHED house in Bournemouth was converted into a drug factory capable of producing £600,000 worth of cannabis a year, a court heard.

A strong smell of cannabis could be smelt and extractor fans could be heard coming from the address in Mandale Road, West Howe.

Police searched the property in November last year and discovered that five rooms were filled with a total of 177 cannabis plants.

The operation was described as "extensive and professional" during a Bournemouth Crown Court hearing on Wednesday, February 24.

Klajdi Kostreni, who was located at the house,was jailed for six months after admitting an offence of producing a quantity of cannabis.

Prosecuting, Jodie Mittell said: "Each room had heating lamps and the house was adapted to facilitate the growth of plants.

"There was a single bed in the hallway of the property. Police discovered a total of 177 plants."

Ms Mittell said these plants had a street value of between £50,000 and £160,000 and there was evidence of previous crops found, suggesting an annual potential of up to approximately £600,000.

"Mr Kostreni was interviewed with the assistance of an interpretor," said Ms Mittell. "He told police he was a worker who had been forced to stay at the property."

The defendant, 21 and of no fixed abode, travelled from Greece to the UK in June or July last year after he believed he had secured legitimate employment earning £3,000 a month in the construction industry.

After a matter of days working on a construction site, he was taken to the Bournemouth house and paid £300 a month to grow the plants after he had been shown how to do this by others.

Mitigating, Kevin Hill said Kostreni finished education in Greece at the age of 19 before two years of national service.

Mr Hill said the defendant completed his national service with no money and his family had used their savings to support him during this period.

The defendant wanted to support his family financial through working in the UK, the court heard.

"He has no previous convictions. He is young and I would submit lacking in maturity," said Mr Hill.

"He was in very bad financial circumstances at home."

The barrister said his client was "exploited", but he added that the circumstances of the case probably fell just short of a modern slavery defence.

Judge Jonathan Fuller QC said: "You explained to the police how you had become involved and I accept that you played a lesser role under the direction of others.

"You chose, however, to remain working there for several months."