TWO men armed with a sword and a machete were caught trying to steal £82,000 of drugs from a cannabis farm in Rochford.
George Saunders, 21, of Southview Road Vange, and Ben Eastwood, 22, of Langlands Drive, Dartford, attempted to steal the cannabis plants but were stopped by police with a van full of drugs.
Both men admitted burglary when they appeared at court on Friday.
A third man, Liam Riley, 28, of Beedell Avenue, Westcliff, admitting being concerned in the production of cannabis during the same hearing.
Prosecuting, Daniel Taylor, said: “Eastwood and Saunders were seen loading cannabis plants into a van from a house in Rochford.
“Police were informed and searched the van and found a significant number of cannabis plants, a sword and a machete and the pair were arrested.
“Eastwood said it was tobacco and when police searched the home they found two rooms full of flowering cannabis plants.
“A third room had newly cropped cannabis plants in it and £1,100 in cash. There was also drug paraphernalia and post at the address for Riley. He also had 600watt bulbs. The total amount of cannabis seized is worth between £28,000 and £84,000.
“We say Riley had a significant role in this and he oversaw the operation on the ground.”
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All three men avoided jail in relation to the cannabis farm and burglary, which took place on January 1 last year.
Mitigating for Eastwood and Saunders, Cathryn Sutcliffe insisted the incident boiled down to “immaturity”.
She said: “Both men came across this grow and they realise the results of this situation can be dire.
“After speaking with both men this is just a case of immaturity. There are also no emotional affects of a home burglary.”
Mitigating for Riley, Madeleine Deasy added: “He did not have a significant role and was only changing bulbs and was under instruction from those operating this who are not yet known.
“He got into it to feed his own habit for cannabis and he was playing a limited function.”
Eastwood and Saunders were sentenced to a year-long community order, 40 days rehabilitation activity requirement and 150 hours of unpaid work.
Riley was sentenced to 20 months in prison suspended for two years, 15 days of rehabilitation activity requirement and and 150 hours of unpaid work.