A total of 174 plants were found at the premises. If they had all developed the potential yield was 4.8kgs – worth an estimated £34,000 in street deals.

A fourth man, taxi driver Craig Russell Handley, 34, of Vale Road, Whitby, Ellesmere Port, was earlier found not guilty.

Hemus said he owned the cottage but the first he knew about the cannabis plants was after the police found them.

David Potter, defending Hemus, said his client had lost everything.

After two decades working at a skilled job on the railways he lost his job in 2009.

And the conviction meant he had lost the opportunity to re-settle in Australia and take up a position there.