Officers armed with a search warrant attended at the address in Clyde Terrace, Spennymoor, at 8am on Wednesday May 17.
Durham Crown Court was told the only person present was Klajdi Kerkapi, an Albanian national in this country illegally, who was arrested.
He was searched and found to be in possession of £210, identity documents and mobile phones.
Chris Baker, prosecuting, said the officers found cannabis plants growing in a downstairs room and noticed the electricity meter had been bypassed to provide a free power supply.
Two upstairs bedrooms also contained further “grows”, with plants at differing stages of maturity, while the cupboard under the stairs was filled with much younger plants.
Mr Baker said all the rooms where grows were found contained the usual lighting, watering and other equipment to aid cultivation.
All the living areas of the property were described as being, “well kept”.
Mr Baker said in all 308 plants at different stages of growth were recovered, 145 of them said to be in their infancy.
An experienced drug officer estimated that depending on the quality of the yield it could produce between 4.5kg and 10.5kg, with a potential street value ranging from £39,000 to upwards of £117,000.
When interviewed the 25-year-old defendant said he was there to help grow cannabis.
Kerkapi said he was brought by lorry to this country and his role was to act as a gardener.
He admitted a charge of producing a controlled drug of class B.
Brian Russell, in mitigation, said the defendant would not have had much of a say as to where he was placed on arrival in the UK, whether it be, “a large drug factory or a smaller one”.
Mr Russell said the defendant has instructed him that he has sent his papers to the Home Office which should, “hopefully”, speed up the eventual process of his deportation back to Albania.
“Mr Kerkapi is keen to go back to his family and work off the massive debt he has built up.”
Recorder Tom Moran said there was some degree of financial motivation in the defendant being at the address, to help to pay off the debt to the traffickers who brought him to this country.
But he accepted he would have been operating under the direction of others, albeit tending a “substantial farm” with more than 300 plants valued at potentially more than £100,000.
Speaking through an Albanian interpreter, Rercorder Moran addressed the defendant.
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“I’m told you have signed paperwork with the Home Office and do not resist your deportation back to Albania.”
He imposed an eight-month prison sentence, with his likely deportation upon release at the mid-point.
Recorder Moran also ordered forfeiture and destruction of the plants and recovered growing equipment.
This content was originally published here.