A farmer from Holsworthy has admitted setting up a large scale cannabis growing operation on his land but denied he was doing so to make money.

Paul Hensher and former company director Aleck Robbins both pleaded guilty to production of cannabis when they appeared before Judge Peter Johnson at Exeter Crown Court.

Hensher, aged 63, of Parnacott Farm, and Robbins, aged 57, of Holsworthy, both pleaded guilty on a basis which has not been accepted by the prosecution.

They say they were not aware of the potential yield of the 222 cannabis plants and only intended to supply a small number of friends for medicinal reasons.

The judge ordered a fact finding procedure known as a Newton Hearing to take place next week to establish the extent of their involvement.

Rob Yates, prosecuting, said the Crown's case is that it was a commercial operation in which both men played a leading role. The plants had the potential to produce drugs worth between £62,000 and £180,000.

Christopher Spencer, defending, said their role was significant rather than leading and they were only supplying a number of identified individuals.

He said: "They were not aware of the scale of what they started. There is no evidence they had any contacts which would enable them to dispose of these amounts."