A pair of cannabis growers have been jailed for setting up an industrial scale operation at a smallholding.

Paul Hensher and Aleck Robbins turned outbuildings at Hensher's Parnacott Farm on the outskirts of Holsworthy into three growing rooms and a caravan into a nursery for younger plants.

They claimed they were getting geared up in the hope that medicinal cannabis would be legalised but in the meantime they sold their crop for £170 an ounce to friends in and around Holsworthy.

They were caught with a total of 224 plants which were capable of producing up to £113,220 worth of drugs every couple of months if they all came to maturity.

Police seized 82 half grown or mature plants which were 50 to 110cm high and another 130 which were seedlings or less than half a metre. They also found 215 grams of recently cropped buds in a workshop that had been converted into a drying room.

Hensher, aged 63, of Parnacott Farm, Holsworthy and Robbins, aged 57, of Littlebridge Cross, Bridgerule, Holsworthy, admitted production of cannabis and were both jailed for two years four months by Judge Timothy Rose at Exeter Crown Court.

He told them: "You were going about this as virtually a professional occupation. The sheer size and scale of the operation monumentally exceeded anything you could possibly have needed for your own use or that of a moderately small local group.

"It is difficult to accept you simply got a bit carried away and ended up with a few more plants that you needed. It exceeded anything that could be consistent with local level supply.

"This was a significant piece of criminality. You set about it with enormous intent and the set-up can only be described as sophisticated."

The judge set a timetable for a financial investigation under the Proceeds of Crime Act which may lead to the confiscation of any assets deemed to have derived from the cannabis growing.

Police raided the farm on October 30, 2018 and found three growing rooms for mature plants and a caravan used for seedlings and younger plants.

Rupert Taylor, for Henshaw, said he had worked most of his life as a bricklayer or builder and started using cannabis for medicinal purposes. He had no idea of the seriousness of what he was doing.

He sold it only to a group of friends who he thought were also using it medicinally and hoped to make the operation legal and above board if and when medicinal cannabis was legalised.

Christopher Spencer, for Robbins, said his client is a family man who works part time in an abattoir. He did not realise the scale of what he was getting into and was only selling to 11 contacts locally.