A MAN is starting a ten-year prison sentence for the “industrial-scale” production of cannabis near a Hampshire market town.

Peter Pout converted an industrial unit near Bishop’s Waltham into a cannabis factory for two years.

Over the period between June 2013 and October 2015 the factory at Yelf’s Yard, Botley Road, had the capacity to produce cannabis with a street value of nearly £6 million, the court was told.

Pout, 51, of Handley Road, Gosport, admitted production.

He also admitted, with co-accused Michael Newnes, the robbery and intimidation of an alleged associate, who cannot be named for legal reasons.

Kaja Reif-Musgrove, prosecuting, said Pout thought the man had ‘grassed’ him up to police so with Newnes they went to the man’s home, an isolated farmhouse near Whitchurch.

There the victim was struck and threatened and a £4,500 Tag Heuer watch was taken from his wrist.

Ms Reif-Musgrove said: “Pout was in control of Yelf’s Yard and an industrial-scale cannabis operation was in place.”

Records showed Pout was paying rent of £28,000 a year and spent £10,000 on specialist growing equipment.

Sarah Jones, mitigating for Pout, denied the cannabis growing was industrial in scale but accepted it was commercial. She said although the street value of the drugs was estimated by an expert to be between £1.9m-5.8m, Pout was selling it at wholesale prices and so lower in price.

Miss Jones said: “He understands he is going to be receiving a substantial period of custody. He is going to miss a substantial part of his two sons’ childhood.”

At Winchester Crown Court Judge Keith Cutler, Recorder of Winchester, jailed Pout for six years for the cannabis production, growing 28 cannabis plants at his home, having £4,500 criminal property and transferring criminal property, and four years for robbery/intimidation, to be served consecutively.

The judge jailed Newnes, 29, builder, of Balfour Road, Portsmouth, for four years.

Pout and Newnes pleaded guilty in February 2017 and were awaiting the end of the trial of the associate who cannot be named. But he is ill and so Judge Cutler decided it would be fair to sentence the men now rather than have to wait for an indefinite period.