A FATHER and son duo who were caught with an underground cannabis farm in their back garden have been spared jail.

David and Robert Williams were hauled before Liverpool Crown Court last week after police found the bunker 8ft below their home in Marshall Avenue, Dallam, back in November 2018.

Robert, now 22 and of Farmside Close in Bewsey, pleaded guilty to production of cannabis and possession of cannabis with intent to supply, while David, 58 and of Marshall Avenue, pleaded guilty to permitting his premises to be used for the production of cannabis.

And it was their guilty pleas, paired with the way that Robert has begun to turn his life around, that spared them from being sent straight to jail.

Outlining the case, prosecutor Katy Appleton told the court how at 9.20am on November 20, 2018, police executed a warrant at the Marshall Avenue property while occupants – son and mother Robert and Melanie Williams – were present.

When Robert was searched, he was found in possession of 15 snapbags of cannabis and a quantity of cash. He was subsequently arrested, as was joint tenant and father David Williams.

A search of the premises was conducted and in a custom-built outhouse at the rear of the garden, a nursery grow of young cannabis plants was located.

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Continuing their search of the outbuilding, police located a door within a false wall leading to a small area, where another hatch within a false floor revealed ladders down to an underground cannabis farm filled with 10 fully-grown plants ready to be harvested.

In the property itself, a large quantity of drug dealing paraphernalia, such as snap bags, scales and a dealer list, was located.

There was also a Celebrations tub containing amphetamine and a large Sports Direct bag containing a large quantity of cannabis and cash.

Following a forensic investigation, DNA belonging to Robert was found on the cannabis snapbags, as was David’s, albeit at a low level, with Robert’s DNA also being discovered on the Sports Direct bag and its contents.

A report from a police drugs expert determined that the ground level grow zone contained 24 cannabis plants, but all were in a poor condition and not viable.

The 10 plants in the underground grow had a top-line value of £19,670. Cannabis found inside the property was valued at up to £9,120, with the entire drug stash estimated to be worth at most £28,790.

Under police interview, Robert answered no comment to all questions, while David denied having any involvement in the production or supply of any drugs.

Ms Appleton told the court how David had 26 previous convictions for 67 offences, including for production and possession of drugs, and Robert had one conviction for possession of drugs.

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In defence of Robert, Martine Snowdon said: “He was a cannabis user who started to grow his own crop after taking the opportunity to make it profitable.

“He is a young man who was 20-years-old at the time, had no previous convictions and is now in a serious position in which his liberty is in jeopardy.

“He has grown up a lot since the offence by getting a job and has rehabilitated himself. I ask you to suspend the sentence to allow him to continue his rehabilitation.”

David appeared unrepresented.

Judge Brian Cummings sentenced Robert to 21 months in prison suspended for two years and ordered him to complete 100 hours unpaid work.

David was handed a seven-month custodial sentence, also suspended for two years, as well as the same 100 hours of unpaid work.

The pair will appear back in court later this year for a proceeds of crime hearing.