Police rush to a Rugby house after reports of an armed burglary - and find a cannabis factory inside

The owner of the house ended up being arrested and charged - but has been spared prison

When the police answered a call about an armed burglary at a Rugby house, they immediately saw what the raiders were targeting – the cannabis factory inside the property.

And it was the occupier of the house in Grosvenor Road, Rugby, who ended up being arrested, Warwick Crown Court has heard.

But Mitchell Foster escaped being jailed after pleading guilty to producing cannabis at the address.

Warwick Crown Court

Foster (31) now of Attenborough Close, Wigston, Leics, was sentenced to two years in prison suspended for two years, with a rehabilitation activity and a 7pm-7am curfew for four months.

Prosecutor Edward Soulsby said that in December 2018 the police received an emergency call reporting a burglary taking place at the house in Grosvenor Road.

When they arrived the raiders had gone, but there was a large amount of cannabis, which it seemed had been the target of the raid, still in the house.

The officers found 2.23 kilos of cannabis bud which was being dried, and which would have had a street value of £22,800 or a bulk value of around £9,000.

In two bedrooms there were 11 mature plants remaining, while in the downstairs toilet there were 64 young plants in pots ready to begin the next grow.

The rooms were foil-lined to reflect heat and light, and there were growing lamps and ‘a full-blown hydroponic set-up,’ and there was evidence the premises had been used for previous crops.

Recorder Christopher Millington QC noted that in a pre-sentence report Foster, who was the tenant of the house, claimed he had become involved because of a substantial debt, and that he was growing the cannabis under duress and threat.

And Foster, who suffers from a degenerative arthritic condition, said the attack on the premises was by those he was working for after a falling-out as a result of him saying he wanted to pull out.

Preet-Paul Tutt, defending, said: “The police were told a group of individuals had forced the door open. Mr Foster was attacked with a machete and he required an operation under general anaesthetic.

“It was a harrowing experience for him and has sent a huge message to him of the risks of getting involved in this type of thing.”

Recorder Millington told Foster: “Following a report of an incident at the premises of which you were the tenant, the police attended and discovered a professional and commercial grow of cannabis.

“The value of the drying cannabis was very considerable, as was the potential profit from the plants which had yet to be grown. We’re talking tens of thousands of pounds.”

But Recorder Millington, who had queried why it had taken so long for the case to come to court, continued: “It took an inordinate amount of time to bring you to justice.

“I have read of the effect the delay has had on you in terms of stress and anxiety when you had always intended to plead guilty, and I have read about the debilitating condition from which you suffer.

“I have come to the conclusion that it is just possible to suspend the sentence I must pass – but I came very close to imposing an immediate sentence. I hope you realise that.”