A Lithuanian national played his part in the production of cannabis in East Lancashire by renting out a storage unit for an organised crime group to stow their drugs.

Arunas Lauraitis, 41, pleaded guilty to one count of participating in the activities of an organised crime group during a trial at Preston Crown Court which concluded on Thursday (February 22).

Police officers executed a drugs warrant at a property in Regent Street, Nelson, where the drugs were discovered.

The court heard Lauraitis, of Norfolk Street in Peterborough, allowed members of the crime gang to use his trade bank account as a timber and building supplier to rent out the storage unit.

Tom Challinor, prosecuting, said Lauraitis had no involvement or knowledge of the items stored in the container.

He knew the group were involved in cannabis production but did not have an idea of the full scale.

Mitigating, Hugh Barton said his client pleading guilty to the new charge was a “significant departure” from the alleged level of involvement which formed the basis of the trial.

Lauraitis had originally been charged with conspiracy to produce and supply cannabis.

Sentencing, Judge Richard Gioserano said: “The prosecution takes no issues with the basis of your plea to that effect and it amounts to you allowing other members of this organised crime group to use your trade account and to taking out the rental for them on a storage unit.

“You accept that in doing those two things, whilst you may not have had knowledge of the full extent of their criminal doing, you knew this group were involved in the production of cannabis in significant quantities for commercial use.”

Judge Gioserano sentenced Lauraitis to 15 months in prison.