A CANNABIS farmer has been jailed after helping to produce thousands of pounds worth of cannabis inside a residential property in St Helens.

Chris Hopkins, prosecuting, told Liverpool Crown Court that police officers attended an address on Corporation Street on Thursday, November 23, and uncovered a ‘sophisticated cannabis production’ operation.

Mantas Matusevicius, of College Street, St Helens, was discovered in the property by officers, appearing to tend to the different areas of the operation, which contained approximately 90 cannabis plants.

“The defendant was in the address and appeared to be walking between several areas in the property,” Mr Hopkins explained.

“The police saw two or three areas which had been converted for the production of cannabis.”

He added that the areas contained different equipment used for growing cannabis.

“There was a drying area that contained branches hanging from string and apparently recently harvested cannabis.”

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As the operation required large amounts of electricity, it was heard that the operation had been set up to bypass the electricity.

“It was clearly a sophisticated cannabis production,” Mr Hopkins added.

The scale of the operation amounted to 90 cannabis plants with between 2.5 and 7.5 kilos of cannabis flowering heads.

Cheshire Police valued the growth if sold successfully, to have the street value of between £25,000 and £114,000.

The court heard that the defendant’s involvement in the operation was in the lesser to moderate role, having taken instruction from others above him.

Matusevicius, 32, moved to the UK several years ago from his native country of Lithuania.

St Helens Star: The sentencing took place at Liverpool Crown CourtThe sentencing took place at Liverpool Crown Court (Image: Merseyside Police)

He has had several convictions during that time including shop lifting offences in 2014 and 2015 that took place in Sussex and Cumbria and for threatening behaviour dating back to 2016.

Defending, Alaric Walmsley said there was no evidence his client had led a ‘successful lifestyle’ as a result of his part in the operation.

“The defendant was effectively a gardener employed by others,” Mr Walmsley said.

Matusevicius, who appeared at Liverpool Crown Courts for sentencing on Thursday (March 29) pleaded guilty to the production of cannabis and appeared via video link from HMP Altcourse.

Addressing Judge David Porter, he said: “I just want to say I am really regretful for what I have done.”

Before sentencing, Judge Porter said: “This court has recent experience of people arriving from Lithuania shortly before getting involved in cannabis farms.”

He explained how many migrants were promised work in the UK, only to be led into work involving cannabis farms.

“No doubt influenced by the money you would make, you participated willingly and fully.”

Judge Porter served the defendant an 18-month immediate prison sentence of which he will serve half of before being released on licence.