An illegal immigrant was today (Monday) jailed for nine months after cannabis with a potential street value of £250,000 was found at a house in Grantham.
Police discovered 27-year-old Ervin Ethemaj living at the address in Kedleston Road after a neighbour became suspicious that the curtains were always drawn.
Inside the house officers found 271 cannabis plants in various states of growth and Ethemaj, who was sleeping in the dining room, Lincoln Crown Court heard.
On his arrest Ethemaj admitted: “I don’t need a solicitor, I’ve made mistake.”
The court was told Ethemaj had come in to the UK on a back of a lorry from his native Albania and was being used as a “gardener” for the plants.
Jeremy Janes, prosecuting, said: “He was living in the premises downstairs, in a dining room with an en-suite toilet. There were cannabis plants growing in all the other rooms, with 271 plants in total.
“This was not an amateurish grow with just one room containing 131 plants.”
Mr Janes said the electricity supply in the house had also been bypassed and a bill of over £9,000 had been run up over a six-month period.
“Somebody, not this defendant, was going to make significant gains,” Mr Janes added. “His role was as a gardener. He had been brought in to this country and had that debt to pay back.”
Ethemaj, of no fixed address, admitted producing cannabis between December 31, 2013, and June 23, this year.
Chris Milligan, mitigating, told the court: “He came in to the UK in March 2014 on the back of a lorry from Albania. He had borrowed £5,000 from his parents to get a better life.
“He arrived in Kent and some time later was offered a job in Grantham by a group of men from Albania.
“His role was simply to switch on the lights and water the plants for which he expected to receive around £1,000. He knew it was illegal but wanted to pay his parents back.”
Passing sentence, Recorder Graham Huston said: “This was commercial operation growing cannabis on a significant scale.”
But he added: “Your role, however, is one of gardener.”