AN ILLEGAL immigrant who was smuggled into Britain for £12,000 worked as a gardener at a Southampton cannabis factory to try to repay the debt.

Police raided the property at Northumberland Road and found plants capable of producing drugs with a street value of up to £96,000.

Appearing at Southampton Crown Court, Klodian Qema admitted producing a controlled Class B drug and was jailed for 15 months.

Daily Echo: Police raided a house at Northumberland Road, Southampton, and found 115 cannabis plants.Police raided a house at Northumberland Road, Southampton, and found 115 cannabis plants.

Emily Lanham, prosecuting, said police investigating reports of a cannabis factory visited the address on May 22 this year.

She said: "The windows were sealed with sheeting and there was the sound of a generator operating within.

"Officers knocked on the back door, whereupon the defendant ran to the front and was detained.

"Police found 115 plants with a street value, depending on the yield, of between £32,000 and £96,000. The defendant said he was just a gardener and didn't know anything about the operation."

READ MORE: Scores of cannabis factories closed as police crack down on illegal drugs trade

John Dyer, mitigating, said Qema was brought into Britain for £12,000 and was faced with the task of repaying the money.

Mr Dyer added: "He was worried about running away because of the effect on his family in Albania.

"He has never consumed cannabis, he was not aware of how it was produced and did not participate in a harvest.

"It was not a luxury lifestyle, he was sleeping on a mattress in the kitchen."

Daily Echo: Klodian Qema was jailed for 15 months at Southampton Crown Court.Klodian Qema was jailed for 15 months at Southampton Crown Court.

Judge Christopher Parker QC told the defendant: "You came to this country as an illegal immigrant and hoped you could obtain work illegally.

"You put yourself into debt to secure your passage here.

"Unsurprisingly you fell into the hands of criminals and the only way you could pay off your debt, according to your basis of plea, was to act as a gardener in a cannabis factory.

"You say you were subjected to a degree of coercion involving threats to your family if you left the enterprise.

"But you had the freedom to come and go from the property and could have reported your concerns to the authorities but chose not to do so."

Qema, 31, of Northumberland Road, was jailed for 15 months but will serve only half his sentence before being released on licence.

Judge Parker said the defendant was likely to be deported once the 15 months were up.

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