UK “Weedton Abbey!”: Stately Home In Somerset Turned Into Cannabis Grow House

Woodland Castle was transformed and cannabis found growing in nearly every room.

Police raided a castle near Taunton and discovered one of Somerset’s largest ever cannabis growing factories.

Woodlands Castle, a former upmarket wedding venue, was found to contain 3,500 plants with a potential value of £1.4million, Taunton Crown Court was told.

Almost every room of the large property was dedicated to growing cannabis plants, with sophisticated lighting, insulation and cultivation systems on nearly every floor.

The 12-acre site, owned by the aristocrat Sir Benjamin Slade, was surrounded by a corrugated iron fence and outsiders kept out by a large padlock and chain.

Once inside, police arrested three men who were allegedly working for a criminal gang.

One of the men, Trung Pham, has gone on trial accused of being concerned in the production of cannabis.

He denies the offence saying he was trafficked to the UK and forced into a lifestyle of slavery by the Vietnamese mafia.

No charge has been brought against the owner of the property.

Prosecutor Ms Susan Cavender said police went to Woodlands Castle, described as a small stately home set in beautiful grounds, on June 1.

Woodlands Castle near Taunton
Woodlands Castle near Taunton

The combination lock on the fence could only be opened from the inside so officers cut the chain and forced entry.

“Inside they found Pham and two other Vietnamese people and an enormous amount of cannabis at every stage of growth,” said Ms Cavender.

The house was ‘stacked high with compost’ in bags in the corridor and ‘specialist lighting and other expensive specialist equipment to enable a cannabis farm to work efficiently’.

“The equipment and plants took up every part of the house and extension apart from the top floor where the men had been living.”

Mr Peter Collins, a former police officer and drug lead expert for Avon and Somerset Police, described the set-up as ‘sophisticated’. There were 547 lights, almost £8,000 of soil, nearly 2,000 fabric plant pots.

He said it would have cost about £100,000 to buy all the equipment and set it up.

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