Man found inside £178,000 Hartlepool cannabis farm is jailed at Teesside Crown Court

Police uncovered a “sophisticated” cannabis farm worth up to £178,000 when they attended an address in Hartlepool for something else.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Officers turned up at a house in Stotfold Street before 9am on April 29 to arrest a man on an unrelated matter.

But Rifat Byberi aroused suspicion when he ran out of the back door as police entered the front, Teesside Crown Court heard.

The 28-year-old was arrested and the house searched.

Stotfold Street, Hartlepool.Stotfold Street, Hartlepool.
Stotfold Street, Hartlepool.
Hide Ad
Hide Ad

A total of 212 cannabis plants were found including 93 in a “nursery” at the top of the property, said prosecutor Shaun Dryden.

He said: “The property had been converted into a sophisticated cannabis grow.

"Rooms had been converted with lighting, ventialation and plastic sheets.

“The prosecution expert estimates the street value at between £59,360 and £178,000.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Byberi, who came to the UK from Albania 18 months ago, pleaded guilty to production of a class B drug, on a basis he only watered the plants.

Stephen Constantine, mitigating, said Byberi had worked in construction in Birmingham and London before being offered a job decorating a house in Hartlepool.

He had no idea what was in the house, and when he found out was threatened, said Mr Constantine.

He said: "He came to this country to earn an honest living.

"He’s thoroughly disappointed that he finds himself in this position.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Judge Tim Stead said it was a sophisticated set up with a significant quantity of plants for commercial use.

But he accepted Byberi, of no fixed address, acted as a “gardener” which put him in a lower category of responsibility.

He was jailed for nine months.