A CASH-STRAPPED mum invited drug dealers to set up a cannabis farm at her home in return for them paying for her terminally ill dad's funeral.

When police raided 30-year-old Chareen Millward's home in Tonge Moor Road, Bolton on November 14 last year they found 24 cannabis plants in the loft.

A sophisticated system was in place to grow the plants including lighting, ventilation, timers and fans to control the temperature as well as the electricity meter being bypassed.

"The calculated yield was 1.28kg which was worth between £8,230 if sold in bulk and £12,800 if sold in street deals," said Rachel Widdicombe, prosecuting.

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"In view of the expert, the owner of the set-up knew what they were doing."

Millward pleaded guilty to producing cannabis.

In a statement to police she said: "I found out my father was terminally ill, I had financial problems.

"I approached some people I knew would help. They installed all the equipment and, in return for letting them grow they would cover the cost of my father's funeral.

"All I had to do was top up the water. I have never been involved in growing cannabis before and this was the first time I did it.

"It was out of desperation, I have never harvested or sold cannabis. I am truly sorry for what I have done."

Millward added that she had installed the ventilation system at the property because she wanted to avoid a smell from the cannabis, which she had been growing for around three months and was due to be harvested in four weeks' time.

But the mum-of-one did not reveal who had set up the cannabis farm at her home.

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Joshua Bowker, defending, handed Recorder Michael Hayton QC references from Millward's family and friends as well as a copy of her father's death certificate.

"She made money from this in that the funeral was paid for, but she was not the person who was going to be selling the drugs on the streets," stressed Mr Bowker.

Millward was sentenced to a two year community order. As part of the order she must undertake 100 hours of unpaid work and participate in 20 days of rehabilitation activities.

"What you did was, of your own initiative, approach people that you must have known were involved in drugs," said Recorder Hayton.

"You needed money for a particular reason, and I have every sympathy with that, of course. But rather than deal with it in any other way you went to, on the face of it, pretty serious criminals, and offered your house as a sort of home for a cannabis cultivation farm."

He added: "I am hopeful that this will be your last appearance before the court.

"This is serious offending. Just because you're not a drug dealer in your own mind, you were playing a very important role in the production of drugs and that causes all sorts of widespread problems for the community at large, from people stealing to violence being committed between gangs and the like.

"Make no mistake, you were part of all that. You are not a drug dealer on the street selling drugs to young children outside school, but you were playing your role."