A domestic cannabis farm was uncovered after neighbours reported hearing a commotion at the terraced house.

Durham Crown Court was told that when they arrived at the premises in question, in St Aidan’s Terrace, Trimdon Station, on the night of Sunday October 23, police found the front door had been kicked in.

On entering the property, the officers discovered a well set-up cannabis grow, with various equipment in use, including timed lights with reflectors, fans and carbon filters.

Robin Turton, prosecuting, said 24 mature cannabis plants were found in the living room, 35 were growing in the large bedroom, while 43 and 25 immature plants were recovered from a smaller bedroom and the loft space, respectively.

The kitchen was being used as a living space with a single bed, while a water butt and pump were found in the utility area.

Read more: Police alerted after neighbour heard banging from next door Shildon home

In total there were 117 plants and the sole occupant of the house, Riza Hasa, was arrested and interviewed.

The Albanian national, who admitted being illegally in the UK, said he was to be paid between £1,000 and £2,000 for tending the plants.

Appearing at a plea hearing at the court, the 27-year-old defendant admitted producing a quantity of cannabis.

Martin Scarborough, in mitigation, said the defendant’s story was a “familiar one” to the courts.

He had been in the UK for about three months prior to arrest, having arrived by boat, with the intention of coming to this country to find work.

But, Mr Scarborough said Hasa had a debt to those who facilitated his entry to the UK and, having been taken to a detention centre by the Border Force, and then placed in a hotel, he was approached by an Asian man who told him he could find work.

He absconded the hotel and was taken to the address in Trimdon Station, where he was shown how to look after the plants.

The man who took him to the property would turn up every few days to check on the progress of the grow.

But, earlier on the night of his eventual arrest, the defendant said six or seven masked men who he did not know had visited the house, so he went to hide in the loft, having suffered an injury to his eyebrow in the intial confrontation.

Read more: 12 drug dealers caught on Teesside as judge makes warning

Mr Scarborough said the defendant claimed he deliberately made a noise as he was fearful of what might happen to him, which led to the neighbours contacting the police.

The court was told the defendant has no previous convictions in this country and, given his experience in the UK, he now wishes to return to Albania once he has served his sentence as his wife and mother still live in his home country.

Judge Jo Kidd said the defendant had taken a “commercial decision” to come to the UK illegally to try to make money.

She said there was no evidence to suggest Hasa was more seriously involved in the operation other than as a farmer.

Imposing a 21-month prison sentence, she said once he has served half of that, it will be up to the Home Office to decide when he will be then be deported.

Judge Kidd also ordered confiscation and destruction of the growing equipment and seized cannabis plants.

Read next:

               Pair were dismantling cannabis farm when Durham Police raided premises

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

               Cannabis grower placed in County Durham home to repay debt

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