An illegal immigrant who had been trafficked into the country from Albania was found hiding in a loft above a cannabis factory.
Gerald Hazizaj, 22, was paying off his debts to the traffickers by acting as a gardener for the drugs at Alexander Cottage in Shenley.
Prosecutor Sarah Porter said that on November 20 last year an estate agent visited the detached cottage, which is in a rural location. He let himself in and discovered cannabis plants.
The police were called and found that three bedrooms and a large downstairs room were being used to grow the drug. The electricity meter had been by-passed and lighting and irrigation systems had been installed. Some plants were hidden behind a door at the top of the stairs.
In total, there were 138 plants in a relatively mature state and £2,500 worth of damage had been caused to the property.
Hazizaj was discovered in the loft. He was arrested and found to have 730 Euros on him.
When questioned, he told the officers he had been trafficked to the UK two months previously and was paying off the £10,000 it had cost him by looking after the plants. He said he thought he was going to work in a car wash.
Hazizaj, who was aided by an Albanian interpreter, appeared via a video link from Bedford prison having pleaded guilty to producing cannabis between September 1 and November 21 last year. He was of previous good character.
Nasser Rupani, defending, said: “He is not here legally. He has signed documentation for easy return to Albania.”
Judge Stephen Warner told him he was satisfied the cannabis factory had been set up by other people and that his role was that of a gardener and that there had been some degree of exploitation by others.
He said: “You were nevertheless a willing party to this criminal enterprise.”
He sentenced him to four-and-a-half months in jail. Taking into account the time he has already served, he will be released soon.
But the judge told him: “It is inevitable you will be deported from the country whose hospitality you abused by your behaviour.”
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