A kind-hearted charity volunteer who once ran a soup kitchen for the homeless returned from her round-the-world adventure to discover criminals had turned her house into a massive cannabis farm.
Tanya Laverty rented out her Liverpool home while she went travelling around Asia with her boyfriend.
But when she stopped receiving rent she became suspicious and returned home to find it had been trashed by thugs who had set up a sprawling drug farm and caused £10,000 worth of damages.
She now fears she may lose her house as she is unable to pay her mortgage and damages.
Tanya Laverty rented out her Liverpool home while she went travelling around Asia with her boyfriend – but returned to see it was overrun with cannabis plants
Tanya flew home after her partner’s mother saw a hosepipe running up the stairs when she looked through the letterbox.
Tanya broke down when she opened the door and discovered her house was covered in cannabis plants.
She said: ‘I completely freaked out – there were so many plants.
‘I didn’t even go upstairs… I just started crying. I was in bits.
‘I was shocked, jet lagged and haven’t really got over it since.
‘It was a massive, massive grow. It’s not like they just came in and did whatever. It’s just awful. My life is completely trashed, my heart is broken.’
If Tanya’s belief that around 200 plants were being cared for is correct, the farm had the potential to bring its operators around £800,000-a-year.
When she left the UK in September she believed she was renting the home to a South Korean family.
The generous 45-year-old dedicated her time to helping run soup kitchens for the homeless in Liverpool before her trip. She even cut the payments after meeting the parents’ baby when they toured the house.
It’s believed thugs caused £10,000 worth of damage to Tanya’s home while she was travelling around Asia
Now she fears she was duped by criminals looking for a property to set up their business in.
Unable to pay her mortgage now her rental income has disappeared and facing a repair bill of at least £10,000, Tanya fears for her future.
She said: ‘I don’t have enough money to stay here.
‘This is because of what’s happened. These people were supposed to be paying my rent. I’ve had to do it for January, February… my bank just went if you miss one more payment they may repossess my house.
Tanya grew suspicious when she stopped receiving rent and returned home from her round the world adventure to find her home had been trashed by thugs
nable to pay her mortgage now her rental income has disappeared and facing a repair bill of at least £10,000, Tanya fears for her future
‘This is how easy it is to become homeless. This is how simple and easy and pathetic and terrible it is for me to lose my home – because some massive criminals or crazy people have just come in and taken over my home and have destroyed it.
‘Now I’m the victim. I’m the one sitting here, going ‘I can’t afford the next payment’, and if I don’t pay it I’m out.
‘I could become the homeless person who has helped so many homeless people.’
The farm covered every room on the first floor and extended into the loft.
Ventilation ducts had been cut through the floor of the loft into the rooms below.
Sheeting, fans, ventilation ducts, lights and dozens of plant bases were in Tanya’s home
The criminals left the front room of the house untouched, so passersby would not notice anything – but wreaked havoc with the rest of that house
Those responsible even adopted cunning tactics to avoid creating suspicion.
The front room was left untouched – so passersby would not notice anything unusual.
And lights were installed behind the curtains of the upstairs bedrooms.
Set to timers, they were programmed to mimic the habits of a normal family – with the lights switching on in the evening before turning off when most would be sleeping.
To make matters worse, Tanya is having to undertake most of the clean-up work herself.
Officers from Merseyside Police dismantled the farm and took away the cannabis after she reported her findings.
But sheeting, fans, ventilation ducts, lights and dozens of plant bases lie strewn across her home.
And at some point while she was away the back door was kicked in.
Officers from Merseyside Police dismantled the farm and took away the cannabis after she reported her findings – but there are remains still left
Tanya now fears she may lose her house due to the damage and is appealing to others for help
Unable to fix it, Tanya said she was shocked police had not at least helped her to secure her home.
She said: ‘The police came around. They sat me down as I was having a panic attack. They came and did what they needed to and sent me a message the next day and said they were going to hand the house back over.
‘They said ‘the police will be in touch’. No conversation, nothing about what happened, no support. I felt like I was guilty.
‘If you look like someone who is going to do a grow, we are the ones – but we are so not like that.
‘I feel violated. I don’t feel safe in my own home.
‘I just think ‘is this how they are supposed to leave the place – not taking all of the stuff out? They have their evidence.’
After years of helping others, Tanya is now appealing for anyone who can help her carry out repairs to her home.
Asked what the support of others would mean to her, she said: ‘It would be amazing. I know there’s people [who are willing to help] out there because I have been one of them.
‘I know there are beautiful people out there. Just imagine if I lost my house because of this.’