Gardener who tended £180,000 worth of cannabis plants avoids jail
PUBLISHED: 05:30 04 July 2020 | UPDATED: 08:17 06 July 2020
A man who acted as a gardener tending an estimated £180,000 worth of cannabis plants at an Ipswich property has avoided prison.
Islam Xhebxhia, 22, of no fixed address, was arrested after police raided a property in Severn Road, Ipswich, around 8.20am on Tuesday, May 19 and discovered a “substantial” cannabis production operation.
Officers executing the warrant found 266 cannabis plants at various stages of growth along with hydroponics equipment, electrical paraphernalia and £100 in cash.
Appearing at Ipswich Crown Court on Friday via video link, Xhebxhia pleaded guilty to producing cannabis and not guilty to a charge of acquiring, using or possessing criminal property – which was accepted by prosecutors.
Marc Brown, prosecuting, said: “On entry to the property, officers found a substantial cannabis production operation in progress.
“It was the usual story, a domestic property having been converted into a production facility.
“He was effectively a gardener at the property, whose job it was to water and feed the plants.”
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The court heard that Xhebxhia, who spoke through an Albanian interpreter, offered no comment in interview following his arrest.
Craig Marchant, defending, said: “Little of what he did was motivated by choice, and was the product of poor decision-making when he was younger.
“He has expressed his remorse to me of becoming involved in all this.”
Mr Marchant added that Xhebxhia was not involved in the supply of unlawful electricity to the property, and had “little understanding” of the cannabis operation.
The court heard that the 266 cannabis plants carried a potential yield of up to £180,000.
Sentencing Xhebxhia, Judge David Pugh said: “After a search by police, the house that you were occupying was found to be full of cannabis plants.
“It is said that you were merely a gardener, merely someone employed to feed and water the plants and the prosecution do not seek to challenge that.”
Judge Pugh sentenced Xhebxhia, who had no previous convictions, to nine months’ imprisonment, suspended for 18 months.
The judge also ordered the forfeiture and destruction of the drugs and £100 in cash.
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