AN UNDERGROUND garden of cannabis with a street value of £215,000 was discovered by police at a farm in Ryton.
Elijah Stokes, the man described as its manager, was jailed for seven years after being found guilty at Warwick Crown Court of producing cannabis.
The 29-year-old, of Yardley Street in Coventry, had previously admitted a second offence of producing cannabis at a home in Amy Close also in Coventry, the home of Natalie Kennell who herself admitted a charge of allowing that to happen.
Twenty-four-year-old Kennell was also found guilty of possessing cocaine found at her home with intent to supply it and was jailed for a total of three years.
The court heard Stokes was stopped by police on Black Prince Way in Cheylesmore on December 3 after the car he was driving had been seen leaving Whitehouse Farm in Ryton.
Officers later searched the farm where in a unit there they discovered a hatch in a floor hidden by tyres and inside a labyrinth of rooms all containing cannabis plants at different stages of growth.
A large cannabis plant was found at the property on Amy Close along with 60 seedlings together with hydroponic equipment.
In the freezer at the address, three clear bags later found to contain cocaine were recovered with an estimated street value of £4,000.
The court was told police had been interested in what was going on there for a while, and had been keeping observations on Stokes who was seen visiting Whitehouse Farm in different vehicles over the course of the previous two months. He had also been seen visiting a hydroponics shop.
Stokes claimed the drugs at Amy Close was for himself, and had nothing to do with the crop at the farm unit which he said he used part of it to store alcohol which he traded in.
After the jury’s verdicts it was revealed while Kennell had no previous convictions, Stokes had several and at the time was still on licence from an eight-year sentence for robbery in 2007.
Simon Hunka, for Kennell, said she came from a well-respected family in Coventry who ran their own business which she had worked in, and described her as a naïve young woman who had not realised the full seriousness of what she was getting involved in.
Recorder Tim Raggatt QC told Stokes: “You are someone who has turned to crime in an organised fashion.”
Oshae Hunt, 18, of Gilbert Close in Hillfields, was found not guilty of being involved in producing cannabis at the farm after it was said although he had gone there with his uncle, he did not go inside the unit.