A Cypriot national who set up a “substantial” cannabis factory in a quiet Cambridgeshire village after running into financial difficulty was sentenced to 40 months in prison.

Andreas Costa, 54, of Enfield, London, claims he initially rented a single industrial unit in Button End, Harston, to store clothes for a business he had set up.

But after banks in Cyprus went bust, Costa lost all of his money and was stuck with a one-year lease on the unit he could no longer afford.

Having run up huge debts and borrowed from family and friends, Costa made the “very stupid” decision to turn the D3 industrial unit at Button End into cannabis factory.

Sentencing Costa at Cambridge Crown Court on Thursday, Mr Recorder Oldham told him: “It’s extremely sad to see a man of 54 years old in court facing a drug conviction.

“You set up a legitimate business but you then turned to an organised enterprise to grow illegal substances.”

The police raided Costa’s factory on March 30 last year and found Costa and two other men tending 450 cannabis plants at various stages of development.

The factory was spread over a two-floor unit and clandestinely tapped into a National Grid cable for power.

Police estimate Costa’s plats would bring in between £126,000 and £382,500 on the street, at £10 a gramme for the Class B drug.

Costa told police he expected to make around £60,000 from the factory, which he worked at “two or three days a week.” A third party, who Costa refused to name, was also making a tidy profit by distributing the cannabis on the streets.

Defending Costa, Jack Talbot said: “This is not an operation where there are multiple houses and multiple individuals involved.

“It is a one-man operation and Mr Costa has a leading role in that operation, but he is not producing industrial quantities for commercial use.”

Rob Thomas, chair of Harston Parish Council, said: “It’s the first I’ve heard of anything like this and it’s not the sort of thing that we want happening in the village.

“I’ve got plenty of weeds in my garden but none like that.”

Cambridge News

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