Man found inside £178,000 Hartlepool cannabis farm is jailed at Teesside Crown Court
and live on Freeview channel 276
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.
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.”
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.”
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.