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Daniel Palmer ran a secret cannabis factory under a barn in Hatherleigh, Devon

A businessman who ran a cannabis factory in five interlocking shipping containers buried under a barn on his father’s farm has been jailed.

Daniel Palmer, 40, of Petrockstowe, Devon, was found guilty of producing cannabis after a trial in August.

Police had seized skunk with a retail value of £384,000.

Jailing Palmer for six years and three months, Judge Paul Cook at Taunton Crown Court told him he should have known the risks involved.

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The entrance to the secret growing area was through a concealed trap door

The factory was housed underneath a barn on the 200-acre Easter Hall Park at Petrockstowe where Palmer ran a business making log cabins.

The entrance to the secret growing area was a trap door concealed by farm machinery and sacks of fertiliser.

When police raided the farm in February 2017 they found drugs vacuum packed into 1kg bags.

Palmer claimed items containing his DNA got into the underground chamber by being picked up by the growers who rented land from his father and set up the operation without his knowledge.

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Devon and Cornwall Police

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Daniel Palmer was jailed for six years and three months

Equipment in the underground containers included ventilation, lighting and a spinning machine to dry the cannabis.

Prosecution barrister Simon Burns told the court Palmer had a previous conviction for growing cannabis on a different farm in 2001.

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Palmer was growing skunk cannabis in the shipping containers

In mitigation, defence barrister Nicolas Gerasimides said Palmer was “not the king in this operation”.

He said a man named Stephen Parker, who previously served nine years for drug importation, was “at the top of the tree” but police did not know where he was.

The judge said he “could not conclude with certainty there was nobody higher up the chain”.

An order was made to destroy the drugs and a proceeds of crime hearing will take place in January 2020 to establish how much money was made from the operation and where it went.

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