A HOMELESS man who was lured into growing £84,000 worth of cannabis has been jailed despite being “low down in the chain".

Tonin Zefi was found hiding in the loft of a Middlesbrough house by police officers last summer who went on to discover 8.5kg of cannabis growing in the converted farm.

Teesside Crown Court heard the 29-year-old was lured to the North-East with the promise of a job and home but ended up looking after the “huge scale cannabis enterprise”.

Dr Christopher Wood, prosecuting, said: “Police executed a warrant at a property in Middlesbrough. The front door was heavily barricaded with bolts and so was the back door but police believed someone was in the property at the time.

“A search was conducted and they found the defendant hiding in the loft. The property was converted into a huge scale commercial enterprise for the purpose of producing cannabis. Extractor fans were installed and there were reflective sheets and an irrigation system.

“In one bedroom there were 65 cannabis plants growing and two bags of cannabis buds weight 2kg. In the second room there were 35 plants.”

He added police suspected there were plans to expand the farm to the loft and up to 8.5kg of cannabis was recovered, amounting to the estimated street value of £84,000.

But the court heard Zefi was "low down in the chain" and was sleeping rough on the streets of London when he was offered a job cultivating the cannabis plants in Middlesbrough in exchange of £50 a day.

Handing Zefi eight months in prison, Judge Stephen Ashurst said: “There is no doubt those higher up will be the ones making the money and they rely on people like you to do the work but cannabis production is a major problem in this country.”

Zefi, of Worcester Street, Middlesbrough, pleaded guilty to one count of cannabis production. A court order was also made to destroy the cannabis and equipment seized.