A MAN has started a three-year jail sentence after police discovered his £100,000 cannabis factory.

Officers swooped on a unit at Lodge Lane industrial park, in Langham, and discovered 365 cannabis plants.

Anthony Clifford, 50, was at the lock-up and asked police: “What do you think I will get for this?”

He claimed he was growing the drug for his own use, as he had a bad back when police arrested him on February 9 this year.

Clifford, of Falkner Close, Stock, was sentenced to three years in prison when he appeared at Chelmsford Crown Court yesterday.

He admitted producing cannabis at a previous hearing.

Officers secured a search warrant following a tip-off to Crimestoppers and descended on the unit in a convoy of 11 cars and vans.

Inside, officers found a sophisticated growing operation with lights, a watering system and ventilation for the plants.

The plants were in varying stages of growth in different rooms and had not been harvested.

If they had been, police experts estimated the cannabis could have netted 15.6 kg of the drug with a street value of £103,800, the court heard.

The court was told the plants could have yielded a minimum of £7,000 worth of drugs a month.

David Howell, mitigating, said Clifford had not made any money out of the operation.

After the raid, neighbouring businesses told the Gazette they thought the unit was being used to work on a car.

Sgt Lou Middleton, who was involved in the raid, said the sentence showed the positive impact tip-offs to the police and Crimestoppers could have.

Speaking after the raid, he said it was one of the most complete and professional set-ups they had seen in recent years.

Sgt Middleton said: “It was quite easy in the end. I knocked and a man answered.

“It is great to disrupt a production line like this.”