TWO MEN have been jailed after police raided a house and discovered 100 cannabis plants.
Preston Crown Court heard police had raided the house in Tockholes Road, Darwen, after neighbours had complained about the smell of cannabis, the sound of something being chopped up, people leaving at all hours and issues with their electricity supply going on and off.
When they got into the house they found two Albanian nationals, Mentor Vata and Shpresim Vehapaj standing in the kitchen.
Prosecuting, Paul Cummings said: “On June 24 this year early in the morning, about 5.20, police went to this address in Tockholes Road, Darwen.
"The officers knocked on the front door and they got no reply. They went to the back door and got no reply. The tried the door handle. It was unlocked and they were able to go in.
“Immediately they could smell a strong smell of cannabis. They saw the two defendants stood in the kitchen. There was a bed in the kitchen. The officers said it was obvious at least one of the men had been sleeping in the bed.”
Mr Cummings said officers began to search the house and in the first room they found between 20 and 30 cannabis plants at the early stage of growing, as well as large lamps, extension leads and a number of plugs plugged into various sockets.
In the second room there were between 20 and 30 fully grown plants, as well as a lighting set up with heat coming off the lamps.
In the third room covered in foil there were plants drying out, while in the attic there were between 50 and 60 plants.
There was also evidence to show that electricity was being illegally extracted.
Vatta, 33, and Vehapaj, 26, who are both of no fixed address and had no previous convictions in the United Kingdom, pleaded guilty to being concerned in the production of cannabis.
Defending both men, Adam Watkins said both his clients had entered the country illegally in search of a better life.
However when they’re more legitimate employment had dried up they got sucked into crime. He said both of his clients would find it difficult in a British prison because they can’t speak English.
Referring to Vata, Mr Watkins said: “He came to the UK in the back of a lorry hoping and expecting to find employment with which to support his family back home in Albania.
"He spent a period of time in Enfield being supported by the local community doing gardening in the more legitimate sense of that word. That work dried up. He wasn’t entitled to benefits.
"He didn’t have the savings to get back home. He was offered the opportunity to get involved in this activity.
“He became the gardener and nightwatchman. He wasn’t receiving any payment in the direct sense for what he was doing. His reward was a bed, a roof over his head and food.”
Referring to Vehapaj , Mr Watkins said: “He had been working in the construction industry in London. He was at that address for a few hours only.
"He had no involvement before that. He accepts he was to be paid in cash for his help in those few hours.”
Vata was jailed for two years, while Vehapaj received a four-month sentence.
Recorder Jeremy Lasker told both men they would be subject to deportation proceedings upon their release.