A FORMER undertaker grew cannabis in a garage he converted into a drugs factory.

Police were called to pensioner James Gibson’s Ribble Valley country cottage after neighbours reported they could smell cannabis.

The 66-year-old, who ran his own Blackburn funeral company, Gibson’s, which no longer exists, admitted cultivating 89 plants, which were valued at around £35,000.

On Friday, he was ordered to pay back almost £13,000 under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Police said the case was a ‘bizarre’ example of crime in the semi-rural village of Mellor.

Det Constable Nathan Fish, from East division CID, said: “Mellor is quite an isolated area and there is not pattern of this kind of thing there.

“It is a very unusual event for the area of Mellor. It is bizarre.”

Gibson, of Mellor Lane, was arrested in May last year after officers were tipped off by members of the community about him growing drugs.

When police raided his home, they discovered the plants in a specially converted garage at the back of the property.

After pleading guilty to growing cannabis, he was sentenced to two years in jail, suspended for two years.

A hearing at Preston Crown Court ordered him to pay back £12,767.12 yesterday.

Det Constable Fish said: “We had numerous reports from people in the area who smelled cannabis and contacted the police.

“The plants were recovered from a garage at the back of the house. It had been converted for the purpose of growing cannabis.

“It was found that he benefited thousands from that criminal activity.

“Gibson said he was doing it on behalf of an unnamed third party and it was not accepted it was for personal use.”

Phil Willan, who sits on Mellor Parish Council, said: “This is the first I have heard of it and I have never heard of anybody doing this kind of thing in the village before.

“It is a semi-rural village and it is not something you would expect.”

Det Constable Fish thanked community members for their help.

The officer said: “The community information is highly valued and as a result of that, the money will find its way back into the public services and policing.”

Anybody with information about drugs should call 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.