A secret cannabis farm was discovered in a house in Prenton after an on-going burglary was reported, a court has heard.

Police went to the premises in Fender Way and while they found downstairs was secure they noticed first a first-floor window was open and a strong smell of cannabis.

“It appeared that a fridge freezer had been placed near the rear first floor window in order to gain entry and soil was noted around the window frame, fridge freezer and general area,” said Simon Leong, prosecuting.

“The officers forced entry and found a cannabis farm in the back upstairs room which appeared to have been ransacked.”

Some cannabis plants were hanging from a drying wire and there were some pieces of plant around the window frame which seemed to have been taken out of the window.

Other rooms had also been ransacked but in a kitchen cupboard police found four bags of cocaine worth about £130 and £3,450 cash.

A driving licence was also discovered which showed the name of Mark Fitzgerald.

The next morning, January 5, last year, a police cannabis dismantling team found pieces of cannabis plants in the garden and closer examination of the growing room revealed more pieces of the drug and Fitzgerald’s fingerprints were found on an electronic fan.

The electricity meter had been by-passed, said Mr Leong.

When interviewed 22-year-old Fitzgerald said that he had bought 19 cannabis plants and the growing equipment from a friend and after watching a you-tube video set up the farm a week earlier.

He claimed he was growing the cannabis for his own use as he was a heavy user of the drug.

A small amount of cocaine had also been found in the search and Fitzgerald admitted this was for him to use on New Year’s Eve but his partner miscarried that day so had not used it.

Fitzgerald, who has previous convictions for possessing cannabis and assault, pleaded guilty to producing cannabis, abstracting electricity and possessing cocaine.

Peter Killen, defending, said that Fitzgerald had been working as a glazier at the new Liverpool stadium but had been laid off and was looking for work.

His partner is a care worker who disapproved of his criminal activity. They have a son born in December and he has changed the direction of his life.

Judge Andrew Hatton told Fitzgerald that he did not accept he had only been growing the crop for a week because of the state of the plants maturity.

There was clearly a financial motive and he had planned to supply some of the crop to others.

He sentenced him to 12 months' imprisonment suspended for two years and ordered him to carry out 150 hours unpaid work.

He also placed him under supervision for 12 months.