A CANNABIS farmer in charge of a “professional” drugs operation was caught after he was stopped by police using false number plates on a car.

Learner driver Kestutis Butkus was pulled over in his Ford Galaxy on Newport’s Southern Distributor Road last month and gave a false home address to the police officer who stopped him.

Prosecutor Leah Pollard said the 35-year-old Lithuanian was driven to Mill Heath in the Bettws area of the city where he said he lived.


“The defendant said he didn’t have the keys to open the door. A woman at the address said she didn’t know the person,” Miss Pollard told Newport Crown Court.

Further checks by the police led them to a house in Wolseley Street in Pill, where the Galaxy was registered.

Miss Pollard said officers found 68 cannabis plants inside.

“The electricity had been bypassed. The defendant was growing cannabis in three upstairs bedrooms," she said.

“It was a professional set up. Lights were connected to timers.”

“The cannabis had a significant value and was being produced on a commercial scale and to produce excellent results.”

The court was told the crop had a potential yield estimated at 5.5kg with a potential street value of £44,880.

Butkus, of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty to producing cannabis, abstracting electricity, fraud, driving without insurance and driving otherwise than in accordance with a licence.

The offences were committed on January 29.

Suzanne Payne, mitigating, said Butkus had admitted his guilt at the earliest possible opportunity in court.

She told Judge Daniel Williams that the defendant was a man of previous good character with no convictions either in the UK or his native Lithuania.

Butkus had arrived in Britain two years ago and had worked on building sites in Birmingham, London and Newport.

Miss Payne added: “He has no family over here. He accepts full responsibility and realises he has made a very significant mistake.

“The defendant does use cannabis himself and his offending was motivated for financial gain.”

Judge Williams jailed Butkus for two years and eight months.

The defendant’s driving licence was endorsed with eight penalty points and he must pay a surcharge upon his release from custody.