A STUDENT running a cannabis farm to raise money to pay off his debts has been warned he is facing jail.

Mitch Thomas was arrested after police raided a house in Eastern Avenue on the morning of Monday, September 16.

Inside they found 140 cannabis plants in several rooms which had been set up for producing the drug.

It is thought that had all the plants grown to maturity the crop could have raised about £50,000 if sold in street deals.

The 29-year-old, who was living at the premises as he cared for the plants, also admitted stealing electricity.

Thomas, now of Lyncombe Hill, Bath, pleaded guilty to producing cannabis and abstracting electricity when he appeared at Swindon Crown Court.

Robin Shellard, defending, said: “He was a student and he had substantial debts. “He was persuaded by a friend of a friend to look after the plants, a hydroponics set up, by another person.

“The electricity was abstracted by the other person. He did so in the hope of payment for the sale of cannabis to pay off his debts.”

He said his client had no previous convictions and asked for a pre- sentence report to be compiled on him.

Judge Tim Mousley QC adjourned the case to Friday, February 7 to give the probation service time to see him. He was released on bail until then.

But he said: “Although I am granting bail you should not read that as any indication that there will not be an immediate prison sentence. Do you understand that?

“All sentencing options will be open to the judge that sentences you and that includes a custodial sentence.”

Following the raid Inspector Joseph Saunders from East Swindon Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “This set up was done with the clear intent to maximise profits from the sale of cannabis on a large scale.

“It is of particular concern that the location is so close to a play area and a school. “The cultivation of cannabis on any scale is a criminal offence.

“Those responsible are looking to make as much money as they can regardless of the impact on the community.”