A PAIR of Barrhead drug dealers who used a legitimate business in a bid to disguise their illegal trade have been jailed.

Sean Connelly, 47, and Sean Paul McGowan, 46, attempted to hide their cannabis cultivation behind a partition wall at West Arthurlie Industrial Estate.

The makeshift wall hid a sophisticated cannabis farm which contained 408 growing plants worth around £163,200.

Their cannabis cultivation included fans, heat lamps and a host of other equipment needed to grow the plants so they could be harvested and sold on.

The crooked duo bypassed the electricity meter within the property to ensure they did not have to shell out for the huge amount of power it took to operate their cultivation.

But police became aware of their enterprise and searched the property in August 2014, bringing their lucrative illegal business to an end.

The pair denied they were responsible for the cannabis farm, trying to pin the blame on another man they met on the internet.

They claimed, through their lawyers, that they met the man on Gumtree, sublet half of the lock-up to him, were unaware what he was doing in it and could not get in contact with him.

But a police officer who searched the unit said “the smell [of the plants] was very strong”.

And the officer said that, when he searched through the area where the drugs were being grown, there was nobody else there.

The officer added: “It is quite common for people to hide in it [the growing area] to avoid detection or protect it.

“It was behind a partition wall. There were sounds of fans and signs of heat lamps.”

After the cannabis farm was discovered by officers, engineers from Scottish Power were called in to make sure the unit was safe as McGowan and Connelly had bypassed the electricity meter.

Officers guarded the unit while further tests, including forensic investigations, were carried out.

DNA belonging to Connelly and McGowan was found within the cultivation - and proved to be damning evidence against them.

Connelly signed the lease, which was witnessed by McGowan, to rent the industrial unit, on May 21, 2014.

Connelly opened an electricity account with BES Commercial Electricity Limited, was therefore the electricity account holder and received an invoice on August 13, 2014 which was confiscated by police.

It took officers probing the drug ring four days to completely dismantle the set-up the pair had used to grow the cannabis.

But it took the jury of five men and 10 women just an hour to find both men guilty over the £160,000 cannabis farm - and £3,094 worth of amphetamine that was found in the fridge in the office.

Connelly, of Cranhill, Glasgow, and McGowan, of Provanmill, Glasgow, sat with their heads in their hands as they were told the jury had found them guilty of breaking Section 4(2)(a) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 by producing cannabis at the lock-up between May 21, 2014, and August 19, 2014.

They were also convicted of being concerned in the supply of controlled drugs by having amphetamine, in breach of Section 4(3)(b) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, and Section 31 and Paragraph 11(1) of Schedule 7 of the Electricity Act 1989 by bypassing the meter at the unit.

Sheriff David Pender had previously released both men on bail, called for background reports ahead of sentencing and adjourned the case until this week, when he sentenced them to prison terms totalling seven years each - and fined them £500 for bypassing the electricity meter.

He sentenced both men to five years in prison for growing cannabis and two years each for being concerned in the supply of speed - to run at the same time, meaning they will each serve five years.