A LONE ‘gardener’ was found to be tending a cannabis grow in a terraced street in a County Durham town.

Police accompanied by enforcement officers from an electricity company visited the premises in Davy Street, Ferryhill, on Friday June 17 armed with a search warrant, due to concerns raised over the tampering of the power supply.

Durham Crown Court was told the only individual present, defendant Arbjol Cami, an Albanian national, was arrested and a search confirmed the power supply had been bypassed and was in a dangerous condition.

The officers, immediastely aware of the strong smell of cannabis, found a full growing set up in two bedrooms, from where they recovered 53 plants.

A phone and £310 subsistence money was also found at the property.

Cami made no reply to subsequent police questions, but, remanded in custody overnight, he admitted production of a class B drug and abstraction of electricity when he went before magistrates the following day.

The Northern Echo:

The case was sent to be sentenced at the crown court, which heard today (Friday July 15) that the 21-year-old defendant has no previous convictions.

Tony Davis, for Cami, told the court: “It’s an all too familiar tale.

“This young man is an Albanian national who was living in Armenia when he was offered a job in England.

“Having been trafficked illegally into this country he discovered there was no job for him.

“He, then, finds himself looking after cannabis plants in a house in the North East of England.

The Northern Echo:

“Perhaps, your honour may feel, in a refreshingly honest manner, he accepted responsibility immediately at court and asks for credit for those early pleas.

“He accepts there will be an inevitable custodial sentence that he will serve half of before, no doubt, he’s deported.

“He has no means at all. The money found in the property was given to him to live on.

“In the final analysis, he knows they were cannabis plants and he was involved in an illegal activity.”

Read more: Consett: Albanian men jailed after second arrest in two years for growing cannabis

Judge Ray Singh told Cami: “It’s to your credit that you pleaded guilty at the first hearing.

“You are 21, still relatively young, and you became involved in serious criminality by producing cannabis and abstracting electricity.

“You were aware of the scale of the operation because you were there, right in the middle of it.

“As such, in my view, you performed a significant role.”

He imposed a 20-month prison sentence and told Cami, via an Albanian interpreter, that it would have been 30 months, but for his early admissions.

The judge added: “You will serve half of that term in custody and, thereafter, automatic deportation kicks in.”

Following the case, Sergeant Pete Newman said: “Illegal drugs have wide-ranging and harmful implication for our communities and we will always act on intelligence to keep residents safe.
“I’d like to thank those members of the community who reported their concerns and encourage them to keep working with us to help us to help them.”

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