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£150,000 Stourbridge cannabis farm gardener jailed and deported

By John Scott | Dudley | Crime | Published:

Police uncovered a £150,000 cannabis factory while investigating a suspected burglary, a judge heard.

Officers got no answer from the front door of the address in Vicarage Road, Lye but found the back door was wide open, Wolverhampton Crown Court was told.

Mr Patrick Sullivan, prosecuting, explained: "There had been reports of a man being seen at the location with a knife but it appeared somebody had tried to burgle the place."

Illegal immigrant Klejvis Plangaj walked into the house soon after police swooped to uncover the drug farm in which 180 plants were under cultivation.

The 28-year-old had been working as a 'gardener,' tending the crop and living full time at the property for four months, continued Mr Sullivan. Experts estimated the plants could have produced drugs worth up to £150,000.

Plangaj said he was being paid £300-a-month to look after the cannabis, the court heard. He maintained that he was paying off a debt but declined to disclose who he was working for.

The plants were being grown in the cellar and two upstairs rooms while the gardener lived in the front room which was kitted out with a bed and TV, concluded Mr Sullivan.

Miss Cathlyn Orchard, defending, disclosed: "He had no right to be in this country and will be deported at the completion of his prison sentence. He came here to earn money because prospects in this home country were very poor. He has a responsibility to provide for his parents.

"Initially he did factory work despite officially not being allowed to get a job because of his illegal status. He changed because looking after the cannabis paid better. Clearly somebody was going to make a substantial profit from this but it would not have been him."

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Plangaj, who had no previous convictions, admitted producing cannabis and was jailed for 20 months. Recorder Justin Wigoder told him: "You were looking after this crop for money to send back to Albania.

"You came to this country looking for work and, at first, had legal employment, although you should not have been here. Then you found illegal work that could have made hundreds of thousands of pounds for other people."

John Scott

By John Scott
Reporter/News Feature Writer

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