An Albanian man looked after a cannabis factory that had been set up in a Leamington house to pay back the £17,000 cost of being smuggled into the country.
But now Jetmir Zika will be sent back to his home country – once he has served a 12-month prison sentence imposed by a judge at Warwick Crown Court.
Zika (29) who was living at the house in Plymouth Place, Leamington, at the time, had pleaded guilty to being concerned in the production of cannabis and illegally abstracting electricity.
Prosecutor Oliver Weetch said that on October 5 the police went to the house with a warrant under the Misuse of Drugs Act and found Zika inside.
“When the address was searched, 152 cannabis plants were found growing in five different rooms.
“There was a sophisticated set-up including lighting, watering and fertiliser, and the electricity meter had been by-passed to provide power for it.
“There was a key in the front door, which suggested the defendant could come and go as he wished,” commented Mr Weetch.
A living area had been set up in one of the rooms, with a sofa, a fold-out bed which was covered in clothing, a large-screen TV on the wall, a number of mobile phones were on charge, and the kitchen was well-stocked.
When Zika was interviewed he said he was Albanian, and had tried to enter the UK some time ago but failed and was sent back to France before successfully entering in the back of a lorry nine months earlier.
He said he had been living in London and working in construction before he was brought to Leamington by friends and taken to the house to tend the plants.
Mr Weetch added that the plants were in different stages of maturity, but once harvested the crop would have had an estimated street value of around £86,000.
Nick Devine, defending, said: “He came to this country earlier this year in the back of a lorry.
“The fee for being brought into this country was 2.5 million Albanian lek, the equivalent of something like £17,000.
“In common with many who find their way into this country in that manner, he was provided with a series of jobs, initially in construction and restaurants.
“He does not assert he was acting under duress in the legal sense of the word, but it’s quite plain he was under pressure to do what he was told to do.”
Jailing Zika, Judge Sylvia de Bertodano told him: “You are here because of where the police found you on the 5th of October and what they found with you at that address, a very large quantity of cannabis being grown.
"You came here illegally from Albania, and I accept entirely that you played no leading role in this operation. It is in the nature of your position that you had very little agency in what was happening.”
Observing that Zika has said he now wants to go back to Albania, she said he would be deported after serving his sentence, adding: “I wish you better luck in Albania than you’ve had here.”