Sheffield Crown Court heard on December 10 how Kreshnik Zhuka, aged 29, was caught after a British Gas worker reported the smell of cannabis coming from a property on Newburn Drive, at Tinsley, in Sheffield.
Emily Hassell, prosecuting, said: “There was a strong smell of cannabis coming from the property. He duly informed the police and asked them to attend the property and make enquiries.”
Police forced entry and found a large cannabis operation valued at over £100,000 with 125 plants with lighting and growing equipment, according to Ms Hassell, and Zhuka was found hiding in the cellar.
Zhuka told police he had been brought from London against his will by a criminal gang to repay a debt valued at thousands of pounds.
The defendant, formerly of Newburn Drive, pleaded guilty to producing the class B drug after the raid on June 16, 2020, and he accepted breaching a suspended prison sentence previously imposed for another drugs offence.
Tim Gaubert, defending, said Albanian national Zhuka has mental health problems and a very troubled background and the gang he tried to escape in Albania caught up with him.
Mr Gaubert added: “The situation with his immigration status is that he is locked-up by the immigration authorities and he is illegally here and at the conclusion of this sentence he will be sent to an immigration centre pending deportation.”
Judge Richardson pointed out it is likely this gang will check up on Zhuka because they have lost a lot of money so prison might be the safest place for him.
He acknowledged Zhuka was being exploited and that his role at the cannabis harvest was as a caretaker.
Judge Richardson, who sentenced Zhuka to three years of custody, told him: “In many respects I feel very sorry for you but I have a public duty to punish you for the crime you have committed in this country.”
He added that he hopes that following Zhuka’s release the gang will have forgotten about him and he can make a new life in Albania away from crime.