A MAN found at a Wirral cannabis factory during a police raid has been handed a three-year jail term.

Altin Maze, 51, was spotted at the raid in Craven Street, Birkenhead in December 2022, where 296 cannabis plants were found.

Maze had denied being involved in the production of cannabis, claiming that at most he had been employed as a gardener at the cannabis factory, a claim he had continued to tell to a probation officer.

But a jury in Maze's second trial "utterly rejected" that version of events, Chester Crown Court heard on Friday, March 22, with Recorder Richard Conley concurring with that view.

He said while it was accepted Maze, of The Chase, Huyton, Liverpool, was not "a drugs kingpin", it could be concluded he played a "significant role" in the class B drug operation.

Prosecuting, Suzanne Payne, said the profits generated from the cannabis plants ranged from £41k to £370k.

Defending, Sarah Griffin, said Maze, with no previous convictions, was a family man who had been in employment both in Greece and the UK. He had also not reoffended since December 2022 but had been on curfew for 456 days.

The judge told Maze: "Having had the trial and the utterly implausible account you gave to the jury on not one but two occasions.

"I had rather hoped that you might have been more honest with the probation officer, but you chose to tell her the same lies you had told the jury. It's surprising that the writer of the pre-sentence report was fooled by your obviously false account.

"Like the jury, I totally reject your reason for being on the premises that day, so I am left to draw my own conclusion."

Maze was jailed for three years, with the 456-day curfew equivalent to 228 days of custody already served. The cannabis plants and other drug paraphernalia found at the premise were to be forfeited and destroyed.

The judge warned Maze, who heard proceedings through an interpreter, that he would also be subject to deportation proceedings.