Latvian immigrant caught guarding £60,000 cannabis farm in Wolverhampton
A Latvian immigrant has been jailed for guarding more than 70 cannabis plants after less than a month in the UK.
Aris Abelitis was arrested just three weeks after he entered the country with hopes of making the UK his new home.
But his dreams of a better life were shattered after he was caught keeping watch over a hoard of plants worth up to £60,000.
Jailing the 20-year-old for eight months, Judge Amjad Nawaz said: "You were there just to look after and water the plants.
"Had your role been any higher, you would face a much greater sentence."
Police stormed a property in Sandon Road, Fordhouses, near Oxley, Wolverhampton, where they discovered the defendant in a bedroom.
Officers uncovered 71 cannabis plants, which were about 30cm tall, being grown in the living room.
A 'follow-up crop' of 78 seedlings was also found, along with dried cannabis in the pantry, on March 20 last year.
Prosecutor Mr Howard Searle said: "The set-up included lighting, transformers and misting systems. It seems as if it was a relatively significant set-up.
"The rooms were set up so cannabis could be grown at regular intervals in the year. Electricity was illegally abstracted.
"There was a significant quantity of cannabis for commercial use."
The cannabis plants, which weighed between 2kg and 6kg, would have had a street value of between £20,000 to £60,000.
The follow-up crop would have provided a similar yield, the prosecutor said on Wednesday.
Mr Searle told Wolverhampton Crown Court Abelitis had no previous convictions in the UK but prosecutors had received no response from Latvian authorities.
Defence barrister Mr Jon Roe said Abelitis wanted to find work in the UK and improve his English after leaving native Latvia.
The carpenter was asked to look after the cannabis plants after leaving his mobile number while job-hunting.
Abelitis, who was dubbed immature for his age and naive, has no family in Latvia and has lost contact with his girlfriend since coming to the UK and landing in custody.
Mr Roe added: "He travelled to this country with very modest finances, which soon ran out.
"He is so far from home, with very little support, and in effect, no finances. He wishes to return to Latvia.
"His efforts in this country have come to nothing. He now wishes to go home and settle down there."
Abelitis, of no fixed abode, admitted cultivating cannabis, a class B drug.