THREE men have appeared at court accused of tending the growth of cannabis ‘farms’ in two different properties in County Durham earlier this year.

The trio, all of Albanian descent, were arrested in separate police raids at premises in West Cornforth and Evenwood, in January.

Roxhens Dymyshi, 24, and 27-year-old Lulzim Ceveli were detained at a property in High Street, West Cornforth, from where 780 cannabis plants in different stages of maturity were recovered by police, on January 11.

The duo, both of no fixed address, each denied charges of producing a class B drug and abstraction of electricity, during a plea hearing at Durham Crown Court.

They were remanded to remain in custody, in nearby Durham Prison, pending a trial date on June 7.

In a different case Miri Mekshi, 32, also of no fixed abode, appeared at the court accused of being concerned in the production of a class B drug.

He was arrested on January 15 at premises in West Terrace, Evenwood, where cannabis was being grown.

The court heard he is thought to have been the ‘gardener’ overseeing the crop in what was a commercial scale enterprise.

Chris Baker, prosecuting, said the Crown wants to examine his phone contents to establish his full role.

No plea was entered and he will remain in custody pending a further plea hearing on March 3.

But a provisional trial date was agreed, should he deny the charge, starting at the court on June 16.