Man jailed for looking after cannabis factory in Leamington

He said he was forced to do so in order to pay off a £25,000 debt

A man who was forced to look after a cannabis factory in a Leamington to pay off a £25,000 debt has been jailed for 27 months.

Capajev Lleshaj (28), from Abania but of no fixed address, had pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to being concerned in the production of cannabis at the house in Camberwell Terrace.

Prosecutor Gary Venturi said that on May 18 the police executed a search warrant at the terraced house, where Lleshaj was the sole occupant at the time.

Warwick Crown Court
Warwick Crown Court
Warwick Crown Court

Four of the rooms in the house had been converted into a ‘professional set-up’ for the growing of a total of 96 cannabis plants in various stages of growth.

Although no value was given for the cannabis, based on other recent cases at the court, when mature the crop would have been worth up to around £80,000 in street deals.

“Both the front and rear doors had been locked from the inside, and keys were available, so there was nothing to indicate the defendant was not free to come and go,” said Mr Venturi.

Unlike in many such cases in which living conditions were Spartan, Lleshaj had a comfortable living area in the house, with a double bed, other furniture including a wardrobe.

He also had a laptop and a phone, and the kitchen was clean and well-stocked with food and drink.

When he was interviewed he said that after arriving in the UK just over a year ago, he had been living in London but had accumulated £25,000 worth of debt to people he would not name.

Lleshaj said he was taken to the Leamington address by taxi to work tending the cannabis plants to pay off his debt.

He confirmed he had a key and would go out shopping once a week, using money which came through the letterbox once a month.

He explained that the phone had been given to him, and that once a fortnight some men would visit – but that he did not know who they were and was confined to his bedroom during their visits.

But Lleshaj added that he was scared of the men, who he said had forced him to be there, said Mr Venturi.

Ian Sped, defending, said: “He is 28 years of age, without any record on the Police National Computer, and he made frank admissions at the police station.”

Jailing Lleshaj, Judge Andrew Lockhart QC told him: “You were a man of good character, but you became involved in the production of cannabis in this town.

“There was a search of the property where you were living at 10 Camberwell Terrace, and a sophisticated cannabis grow was found, with 96 plants in four rooms.

“It is plain you had chosen to be there. However, it is right to say you had had to be there because you owed a debt to people who had helped you into the country.

“You had come to this country to work, and you found yourself stuck in this rut, but I find you were in a significant role.

“The offence is aggravated by the factors that there was an accompanying unlawful access to the electricity and that this was a large-scale operation.

“But significantly, while it does not provide you with a defence, there was plainly pressure for your involvement, and I bear that in mind.”