Owner’s anger as cannabis farm flood wrecks shop

Keith Stevenson with the sign outside his shop

Keith Stevenson with the sign outside his shop

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AS menus go, it is certainly one that makes gossip-hungry customers look twice.

One disgruntled cafe owner decided to serve up a portion of revenge by taking to his sandwich board to blast the drugs lords who “destroyed” his business.

Keith Stevenson, owner of Bonningtons Eaterie, opted to dedicate his prime promotional space to tell his customers in Clerk Street: “Cannabis Farmers Ruined My Shop.”

A top-floor flat three levels above him was discovered by firefighters on Saturday afternoon to be crammed with a hefty haul worth up to £200,000 after they were called to deal with water gushing into downstairs properties.

A tube attached to a tap which was being used to cool the cannabis plants in the unoccupied flat had burst, causing water to flood the sink and drench the floors. Mr Stevenson’s shop, which was fully refurbished only six weeks ago, bore the brunt of the leak, which is causing his ceiling to slowly crumble.

Police are now looking for the culprits after confiscating around 500 cannabis plants from the property, but Mr Stevenson said he wanted to “shame” the dealers who have caused havoc to his business.

The 31-year-old, from Dalkeith, said: “I spent over ten grand refurbishing it and we only opened six weeks ago, yet I’ve been forced to close again. The ceiling is damp, the plaster feels like mud.

“Firefighters had to knock two big holes in the ceiling to relieve the pressure on it. The water basically dripped down from the top flat to our shop at the bottom.

“This is a criminal network we’re talking about. It could have been hugely dangerous to the four students who live below the cannabis flat.

“Can you imagine if the ceiling and floorboards above the downstairs had been in a ropey condition?”

He added: “I saw some guys coming out of that block six months ago, lugging suitcase after suitcase. I thought something was odd then. It was clearly one of these factories where they keep pumping out drugs until they get caught.

“I was told around 500 plants were crammed into five rooms. Some people in the block said they had smelled weed, but they chalked it down to students living there.”

One of the students living in the flat directly below the cannabis farm said they’d had “no idea” what was upstairs.

Rachel Crockett, 21, a biology student, said: “Police said they’d found about 500 plants. We had never seen the people upstairs. We tried to knock on the door to get them to turn off the tap, but we got no answer.

“The water was dripping down the shower room walls, into the smoke alarms and electrics.

“It’s crazy to think that was going on above us. Only two weeks ago we slipped a note through the door inviting them to our cocktail party.”

A police spokesman said: “Detectives are now conducting inquiries to trace those responsible for this cultivation and anyone who can assist with their investigation is asked to come forward.”

SMOKED OUT

NEARLY 30 cannabis plants a day are recovered in the Lothians as police crack down on the gangs behind the trade in the illegal drug.

Figures revealed in January showed 7635 plants were seized by police in the nine months between last April and December, with the number expected to soar by a quarter for the year. Officers recovered 7679 for the previous full year, with the cannabis valued at £1.15 million.

Gangsters from China, Malaysia and Vietnam are said to be behind the majority of cannabis farm operations.

Farms with more than 100 plants have been found in locations including Edinburgh, Dalkeith, Gore- bridge, Hadding- ton, Kirknewton, Livingston, Long- niddry, Penicuik, Prestonpans and Tranent.

In the city, farms have been found in Gracemount Juniper Green, Craigmillar, Newhaven and Cramond.