A 43-YEAR-OLD man has been jailed after police found that he was running a ‘sophisticated’ cannabis farm next door to Cheshire Police HQ in Winsford.

Damian Shaw, 43, from Middlewich Road in Crewe, was sent to jail for two years and four months for cultivating cannabis on Wednesday, June 1, when he appeared at Chester Crown Court, after pleading guilty at an earlier hearing.

Shaw had been renting the business unit 1 in Barlow Drive business park next to the police HQ for the ‘sole purpose’ of running a large and sophisticated cannabis grow.

Officers raided the building on April 22 and found 160 mature cannabis plants amounting to an estimated street value of £100,000, as well as all the necessary equipment to run an efficient cannabis farm.

Chief Inspector Simon Meegan said: “There are a number of ways that we can locate Cannabis being cultivated and there is no place to undertake this criminal activity without the risk of getting caught. In this particular case its close proximity to police headquarters increased that risk, and the custodial sentence reflects the scale of the operation.

“It’s a significant amount to be taken off the market of what is a drug that is proven to cause long-term harm as well as being illegal.”

The business unit, which was filled with cannabis, was less than 50 metres from Cheshire Police HQ.

Police have also given advice on how to spot if someone in your neighbourhood is growing cannabis, including a pungent sweet smell, windows that are blacked, occupants who are rarely seen or active at odd times, and unusual noises such as fans going constantly.

Landlords have also been warned to be on guard when renting out their property.

A Cheshire Police spokesman said: “Most commonly a rented property of a good size with several rooms with an absentee landlord is chosen, so be aware of people who ask how often you will visit the property when renting one of your homes.”