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A Kensington man has been sentenced to eight years imprisonment for conspiring to produce up to £7 million worth of cannabis at Liverpool Crown Court yesterday, Monday 5 February.

52-year-old Robert Zielinski from Cliff Street in Kensington was sentenced following a long-running investigation into cannabis farms set up across Merseyside.

Between May 2015 and June 2017, Zielinski obtained 33 properties for the purposes of producing cannabis with an overall estimated value of £7 million. He also falsely claimed benefits from 2010, for which he received an additional 16 months concurrently.

Zielinksi sub-let properties and informed landlords he would rent them to workers and associates of his, and a total of 33 of these properties were found to have been used for cultivating cannabis.

One of the farms, which was discovered in Egerton Park, Rock Ferry on 27 May 2015, was found across 11 flats and consisted of 985 plants to the value of between £400,000 and £804,000 (a yearly yield of up to £3.5 million).

Detective Constable Carl Woods said: “We are pleased that Zielinski has been removed from the streets for the foreseeable future. He was responsible for setting up a significant number of cannabis farms across Merseyside, locations which are both death-traps for those living close by, and as a magnet which can attract serious and organised crime to these areas.

“Electricity was also abstracted at the locations, which not only ran into a bill of hundreds of thousands of pounds, but also presents a huge fire risk for those who have the misfortune of living by such locations. Working closely with the Department of Work and Pensions, we have also prosecuted Zielinski for long-term benefit fraud claims.”

“Criminal groups involved in the cultivation of cannabis are often involved in other serious organised crime which brings significant harm to those communities. Groups will often rent residential and industrial properties in the heart of our communities, and the growing of cannabis bring huge risk to neighbouring properties and businesses.

“Each seizure represents money being taken from the pockets of criminals and we encourage members of the communities to report any concerns to police.”