A BOUNCY castle hire boss denies helping set up a cannabis grow near Worcester, claiming he was only there to fix the washing machine.

The jury is now out in the trial of five defendants, some of whom are alleged to have been involved in a cocaine conspiracy to traffic the class A drug from Worcestershire to Devon and others in a cannabis production conspiracy.

Darren Pegler, 40, of Coronation Road, Kidderminster, denies conspiracy to produce cannabis between August 1, 2018 and November 1, 2020. He was one of three men photographed wearing gloves by police at Orchard Way in Leigh, near Worcester on September 12, 2019.

The other two men photographed by a police surveillance team were Darren Pegler's younger brother, Gareth Pegler, who has already admitted conspiracy to supply cocaine and cannabis, and Karl Browning who accepts being involved in the cannabis grow, living at the address because he was then homeless. However, Karl Browning denies trafficking cocaine to Ilfracombe in Devon.

Summarising the evidence to the jury, Judge Martin Jackson said Darren Pegler accepted having previous convictions for vehicle offences and possession of cannabis after someone had left the class B drug in his car after he had visited a friend in custody.

The defendant said he knew his younger brother Gareth had been in trouble before for drugs offences. He has been working as an apprentice at his brother's tattoo shop but also had a bouncy castle business called Kong's Castles, describing himself as a 'one man band'. He said cash found in his car was from sales from that business and DIY work.

Darren Pegler said when he was photographed at Orchard Way 'he had been asked to go and look at the washing machine'.

"He had been wearing gloves so he would not get any muck on his hands from sorting out the washing machine" said Judge Jackson, summarising the defendant's evidence. The pump had been blocked and he removed the filter, he said. In his evidence he said there was no tent set up in the living room of Orchard Way for growing cannabis when he was there and had not smelled any cannabis when he was on the premises.

Darren Pegler accepted there had been a cannabis grow at a shed in Coronation Way in Kidderminster and he had 'had a go at Gareth about it'.

He accepted he had lied in interview and said it was 'a natural thing to want to protect your own brother'.

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.

Gareth Pegler, the partner of Lavelle, brother of Vander Browning and Darren Pegler and brother-in-law of Karl Browning, had already admitted being involved in the cocaine and cannabis conspiracies.

Karl Browning, Sinead Lavelle and Vander Browning deny conspiracy to supply class A drugs (cocaine) between January 1, 2018 and June 1 last year.

Tim Valentine denies conspiracy to produce cannabis and conspiracy to supply cannabis between January 1, 2018 and June 1 last year. Darren Pegler denies conspiracy to produce cannabis between August 1, 2018 and November 1, 2020.

Other cannabis factories, linked to other alleged conspirators, were found in a room above Forty Fathoms Aquatic in Greatfield Road, Kidderminster and at an address in Queen Elizabeth Road in Kidderminster.

The trial continues.