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22 October 2012, 16:20
Two cannabis factories were discovered after the police smelt the drug in a Mercedes they had pulled over at Hunton Bridge near Watford.
Pedro Faustino, a 37-year-old Portugeuse man, was stopped in Watford Road on July 20 this year, St Albans crown court heard on Friday.
Prosecutor David Chrimes said the car smelt of cannabis and when it was searched they found a small knife and £3,000 in cash.
Faustino was helpful to the officers and gave them two addresses where cannabis was growing. They found 80 plants in Little Hill, Rickmansworth and 244 more at Acre Wood in Dimmocks Lane, Sarratt. At Sarratt there was another outbuilding that had been used to dry an earlier crop.
Mr Chrimes said Faustino, a former chauffeur, gave full and frank admissions to the police saying that when he was stopped he had sold 10 ounces of the drug for £1,300. The 324 plants could have yielded 13 kilos of the drug with potential street value of £130,000, said the prosecutor.
Faustino of Popes Road, Abbots Langley pleaded guilty to possessing 5.67 kilos of cannabis with intent to supply, production of cannabis and having a blade on 20 July. As each charge was put to him he said: "I am sorry, guilty." He had no previous convictions.
Kate Barbour, defending, asked for credit for Faustino's early guilty plea and the co-operation he had given the police. She said Faustino, who had come to the UK in 1997, was not aware of the seriousness of the offences. He had been in a significant amount of debt after his chauffeur business had failed. He had separated from his wife, but they were now reconciled, she said.
Judge Stephen Gullick jailed him for 18 months. A confiscation hearing will be heard at a later date.