Four years for bungling raider

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A bungling burglar who travelled to South Yorkshire from London to steal from a huge cannabis farm in an ‘Only Fools and Horses’ style plot has been jailed for four years.

Michael Ward, aged 23, was one of six men who broke into the drugs farm in Hellaby, Rotherham.

But the break-in was so unsophisticated it was likened by the prosecution at Sheffield Crown Court to a plot from TV sitcom Only Fools and Horses.

Yesterday, the court heard the men arrived at Hellaby Industrial Estate, Eden Close, at 1am last November 7 in a Vauxhall van and a Ford Focus, registered and insured in their own names.

Conor Quinn, prosecuting, said when police arrived and gained entry several men armed with sticks escaped.

Ward and another man, who both smelt of cannabis, were found lying face-down in a flowerbed in the grounds of the East Pennine Assembly Hall after they were spotted by officers in the South Yorkshire Police helicopter.

The court heard there were 3,108 cannabis plants in the unit but the drugs did not belong to the gang.

Ward, of East Ham, London, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to produce cannabis and conspiracy to supply cannabis.

He also admitted two counts of affray and a theft relating to a separate matter.

The other men were jailed for a total of 13 years.

Judge Robert Moore said: “You came up to South Yorkshire to force entry into an industrial-scale cannabis farm.”