Cannabis plants worth £75k found in raid on church

St Kentigern's Church on the Union Canal. Picture: Toby Williams
St Kentigern's Church on the Union Canal. Picture: Toby Williams
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Cannabis plants with a street value of up to £75,500 have been seized from a disused church in the Capital.

Police launched a major raid at the former St Kentigern’s Church, St Peter’s Place, after an “intelligence-led” investigation.

A total of 105 plants were seized from the building, as well as a variety of drug-related paraphernalia.

Officers swooped on the property on the southern bank of the Union Canal early on Friday morning, and remained there for most of the day.

Forensics officers returned to the scene yesterday to continue sweeping the building for evidence.

Officers have been speaking to residents in nearby canal boats and tenements which overlook the fenced-off building to see if they have noticed any suspicious activity.

Locals told the Evening News that they had been surprised by the number of police officers at the scene on Friday morning.

One resident, who asked not to be named, said the church had been used as a storage warehouse and the grounds were a car-park until several months ago.

The iron gates at the main access road to the building – leading from St Peter’s Place – have been padlocked shut and steel doors been erected at the church to prevent access.

Detective Inspector Stuart Harkness said the cannabis plants had a potential street value of between £50,500 to £75,500.

His team is now trying to trace the private tenants of the property as quickly as possible to progress the investigation.

Anyone with information about the cannabis farm or potential suspects is being urged to come forward.

Det Insp Harkness said: “Acting on vital intelligence gathered from the public we were able to remove a significant quantity of illegal drugs from our community. As part of our ongoing inquiries I would ask those with any relevant information such as details on the vehicles and people who regularly visited the premises, to contact police immediately.

“We are committed to targeting those who deal in drugs and those involved in serious and organised crime.”

St Kentigern’s was built in 1897, and was used as a mission station of St John’s Episcopal Church in the West End.

It was designed by John More Dick Peddie, a Scottish architect working at the end of the 19th century and the designer of the striking Caledonian Hilton building. It ceased to be used as a church in 1941 and was later used as a nursery and a garage before lying empty for years.

In 2005, heritage experts launched a campaign to save the church from demolition after plans were tabled to build a modern three-storey complex on the site. The plans did not progress.