A JUDGE has complimented Staffordshire Police's drugs squad after officers found a cannabis production plant in a farm barn and rounded up one of the growers.
Around £14,000 worth of the drug was seized in a search raid on Otherton Hall Farm near Penkridge.
The owner of the barn knew nothing about it and said he had rented the unit out to someone calling himself "Steve Wilson".
Fiona Cortese, prosecuting, said traces of DNA on the cannabis were matched to a previously convicted drugs trafficker, Steven Petts, who was subsequently arrested.
Petts, aged 34, of Fifth Avenue, Wolverhampton, who admitted a charge of producing cannabis, was given a 12 month prison sentence suspended for 18 months.
But Judge Michael Challinor warned him: "The drugs squad in Staffordshire are quite a bit better than many people think in terms of surveillance and intelligence. They will be watching you and they will detect if you get involved in any trafficking."
Miss Cortese said the search warrant was executed on 24 May last year.
The officers could smell cannabis coming from a vent in one of the barns. Inside, the unit had been divided in to three sections, with hydroponics and lighting and cannabis leaves hanging up drying.
The drugs weighed just under 2.5kg with a projected street value of £14,030.
When questioned, Petts said he had rented the unit legitimately for his work as a paver, but turned to growing cannabis when work dried up and he was short of money.
He used around £30 worth of cannabis a day himself, had been a user since the age of 13 and the harvest was to be shared with another person who he refused to name.
Miss Cortese said no drug dealing paraphernalia, dealers' lists or mobile text messages had been found to disprove what Petts asserted.
The court heard that Petts had been jailed for 40 months in 2008 for being concerned in the supply of drugs.
David Swinnerton, defending, said the cannabis had been discovered in May last year and Petts had not been involved since.
The crop in the barn was being dried - there were no other plants being grown and no further harvests.