AN alleged cannabis farmer who had a 'factory' above his fish shop compared himself to 'Jack and the Beanstalk' in a text to a convicted conspirator.

Timothy Valentine is accused of running cannabis factories, one above his Kidderminster aquatic shop, as part of a wider plot involving the supply of cocaine and cannabis.

The trial of five alleged drugs conspirators continued at Worcester Crown Court on Tuesday as Tim Harrington, prosecuting, opened the case for the Crown.

As previously reported, the case involves the alleged supply of cocaine into Ilfracombe, Devon and cannabis into Worcester from two factories in Kidderminster and a third on the outskirts of Worcester.

Cannabis factories linked to the alleged conspiracies were found in a bungalow in Orchard Way, Leigh near Worcester, in a room above Forty Fathoms Aquatic in Greatfield Road, Kidderminster and at an address in Queen Elizabeth Road in Kidderminster.

The defendants are Karl Browning, 42, of Hurcott Road, Kidderminster; Sinead Lavelle, 33, of Saxon Way, Droitwich; Darren Pegler, 40, of Coronation Road, Kidderminster; Timothy Valentine, 42, of Beacon Hill, Bridgnorth and Vander Browning, 42, of Usmere Road, Kidderminster.

Karl Browning, Lavelle and Vander Browning deny conspiracy to supply class A drugs (cocaine) between January 1, 2018 and June 1 last year. Valentine denies conspiracy to produce cannabis and conspiracy to supply cannabis between January 1, 2018 and June 1 last year. Karl Browning and Darren Pegler deny conspiracy to produce cannabis between August 1, 2018 and November 1, 2020.

Tim Harrington, prosecuting, told the jury Darren Pegler, Gareth Pegler and Karl Browning were photographed in Orchard Way, Leigh, wearing black gloves which the Crown say is evidence they were involved in the cultivation of cannabis.

Darren Pegler says he did not know anything about the cannabis grow inside which contained tents, lighting and insulation. Efforts had also been made to bypass the electrics, the court heard.

"He said he didn't know anything about the cannabis factory inside. The Crown say that is a lame excuse for a man caught red-handed going to a cannabis factory with his brother and his brother-in-law" said Mr Harrington. The Crown also say there were remnants of a cannabis grow in Darren Pegler's garden shed.

"This is not coincidence. It's part of a conspiracy to cultivate cannabis. He was involved in that cannabis conspiracy in Leigh" said Mr Harrington.

He went on to describe how Valentine and Gareth Pegler (Pegler has already admitted the cocaine and cannabis conspiracies) had entered into a criminal plot to supply cannabis on a large scale by the spring of last year.

Mr Harrington said both men were observed by police at the Kidderminster shop on April 2 last year and Valentine was seen leaving with cardboard boxes before the men went on to visit another cannabis factory the same day, this one in the town's Queen Elizabeth Road.

Mr Harrington referred to the fish shop in Kidderminster as 'a front for a significant cannabis factory which was being used upstairs'. In total 45 cannabis plants were found inside being grown in six tents in a room 'sealed from the inside'.

"They would have produced several kilograms of ccnnabis in a few weeks" he said.

During one message exchange Valentine was asked by Gareth Peglar if everything was okay. Valentine replied: "Yeah man, it's like Jack and the Beanstalk."

Another cannabis factory was found at an address in Queen Elizabeth Road in Kidderminster containing 18 female plants. The electricity supply had been diverted to bypass the meter and 'cannabis worth thousands and thousands of pounds' was found. The Crown's case is that Valentine spent 40 minutes inside.

"The Crown say it isn't a strange coincidence. He knows precisely what is going on" said Mr Harrington.

Arrested from his Shropshire home, officers found a grow chart in Valentine's car. Mr Harrington asked the jury if that was 'just a terrible coincidence'. When interviewed Valentine said 'he did not know there was a cannabis factory in his own business premises' and had 'rented out the room to somebody called James'.

"He claimed he was just an innocent dupe in this" said Mr Harrington. The court heard how Gareth Pegler was stopped near Bristol on the M5 on March 10 last year with 'a bucket of cannabis in his boot'. The Crown said one message from Valentine read: "Me and Gaz have got a problem."

One text from Valentine mentioned 'so many buds to trim' and he also made reference to 'bubblegum' which Mr Harrington said was a strain of cannabis.

Valentine was later to tell police that messages about weights referred to fish food, not drugs. "Why would you be taking fish food down to Worcester for hundreds of pounds?" said Mr Harrington.

The prosecutor said Valentine had offered 'a cock and bull story to police about trading in aquatic plants' and had disputed that the man observed at Queen Elizabeth Road wearing a 'distinctive yellow t-shirt' and carrying a 'big bag' was him. Valentine said he had been at the address at Queen Elizabeth Road to 'feed the cat' and did not know the meaning of the term 'bubblegum'.

The trial continues.