Illegal immigrant tended to £45,000 cannabis grow at Derbyshire house

Adriano Shapo.
Adriano Shapo.

An illegal immigrant was paid £300 to tend to a cannabis grow at a Derbyshire house that could have yielded as much as £45,000.

Derby Crown Court heard how Adriano Shapa had arrived in the UK on a lorry from Albania and made his way to Sheffield looking for work.

There he met “a group of Romanians” who paid him £300 to water and grow the class B drug in two rooms of the bungalow.

But police went to the property after reports were received of “suspicious activity” at the home and when they knocked at the door there was no answer.

But they then looked through a window and saw the 28-year-old trying to hide.

He finally answered the door and tried to run away on foot but was caught a short time later and arrested.

Sarah Allen, prosecuting, said: “It was an extensive cannabis grow.

“The living room windows had been boarded up and there was plastic sheeting put up.

“A total of 79 plants were in that room growing in pots under 11 x 600-watt bulbs.

“A further 49 plants were growing in a second room making a total of 128 plants.

“Experts have said the total yield would have been between 3.6kg and 10.8kg which has a value of between £9,000 and £45,000 depending on how it was sold.

“As happens with many of these cannabis grows the electricity had been by passed.”

Miss Allen said police arrested Shapa after a short pursuit down the street and in interview he told them he had arrived from Albania in a lorry and admitted he was on the UK illegally.

She said: “He told them he had met a group of Romanians in Sheffield when legitimately looking for work and they paid him £300 to tend to the plants, water and feed them.

“He said he had been in the house for between three and four weeks.”

The cannabis grow was at a property on Eyre Street, in Cresswell, and Shapa, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to being concerned in the production of cannabis.

Will Bennett, mitigating, said: “I suspect that the mitigation will sound wearily familiar in this case.

“The defendant was short of money and work in Albania and was told there was easy money to be made in Western Europe.

“He arrived illegally in a lorry and is candid enough to admit he has not been exploited but instead came here legitimately looking for work.

“Foolishly he agreed to be gardener and when the police turned up he was the one left holding the baby.”

Judge Peter Cooke jailed Shapa for 12 months telling him: “You got yourself involved in this by being rather naïve.

“But you had no influence or control on anybody above you in the hierarchy of this operation.”

It was not said in court if any other arrests or charges have been brought in connection with the case.