POLICE uncovered a cannabis factory with more than 450 plants worth £270,000 inside after a tip-off from a member of the public.
When officers called at the house in Harleston Road, Paulsgrove, Portsmouth, they saw a man running away.
Sergegus Bojev was caught just as he made it to his car.
The 35-year-old told police he was paid to feed and water the plants which would have been harvested and sold on the streets of Portsmouth.
Bojev, of Frensham Road, Southsea, pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of the class B drug and possession of criminal property, which was the £2,000 he was paid.
Officers could smell cannabis outside and when they opened the door they found the whole house had been given over to growing drugs.
A total of 453 plants filled the rooms while hydroponic lights and extractor fans had been fitted.
The electricity had been bypassed to get the power needed for all the equipment.
Police said the plants would have provided £269,540 worth of cannabis in a single harvest.
Tim Sparkes, defending, said he was a gardener at the property and was due to be paid another £18,000.
He said Bojev’s father was ill in Lithuania and he was desperate for money.
‘Whilst I can’t say that this was someone who was coerced he is quite clearly someone who did it because of a pressure he felt,’ Mr Sparkes said.
‘He has never been in trouble before.’
Sentencing him, Recorder Nicholas Haggan QC said: ‘The police discovered that you were looking after a very significant number of cannabis plants, no less than 453 plants with a potential single yield of nearly £270,000.
‘A considerable amount of equipment was recovered.
‘It had every indication of being a professional operation.
‘Your role was that of a gardener.
‘You watered the plants, fed them and repotted them.
‘You know these are serious offences.’
Bojev was given a 12-month prison sentence suspended for a year and told to do 180 hours of unpaid work.
Recorder Haggan said: ‘I suspect you were under considerable pressure because of the illness of your father in Lithuania and I accept that you were sending money back for his medical care.’