An electrician who was caught fleeing a house containing a cannabis farm which could have been worth £400,000 a year has been jailed.

Lulezim Zdrava, 44, was arrested as a string of cannabis grows were busted across Teesside.

Officers found 208 plants at a home on Cheltenham Avenue, Thornaby.

This led them to force their way into a property on Dorothy Street, North OrmesbyMiddlesbrough.

Zdrava ran from the back of that house throwing away a phone before he was arrested by a detective, Teesside Crown Court heard.

Prosecutor Jonathan Walker said: “The address contained 162 cannabis plants in four distinct growing areas.

“The value of the plants is estimated between £45,000 and £136,000.

“It was a substantial commercial grow.

“It’s estimated that the address was capable of producing cannabis with an annual value in excess of £400,000.”

Prosecutor Jonathan Walker said: “The address contained 162 cannabis plants in four distinct growing areas.

“The value of the plants is estimated between £45,000 and £136,000.

“It was a substantial commercial grow.

“It’s estimated that the address was capable of producing cannabis with an annual value in excess of £400,000.”

‘Naive electrician didn’t do his research’

Albanian man Zdrava, of no fixed address, admitted conspiracy to produce a Class B drug, his first conviction.

He said his primary role was caring for the plants for five to six weeks, between September 9 and his arrest on October 17 last year.

Mr Walker added: “Clearly this individual was seeking to repay some outstanding sums.”

Zdrava appeared in court via prison video link for sentence, aided by an interpreter.

Michele Turner, defending, said: “The economic situation in Albania isn’t great.

“This is a very skilled gentleman. He has qualified in his home country as an electrician and other skills, so believed he’d be employable on his arrival in the UK.

“He accepts he didn’t do his research. He accepts he was very naive.”

‘Exploited’ cannabis farmer wants to return home

She added: “That plan didn’t work out. He was very much exploited by those who were at the very head of this endeavour.

“It is the defendant’s wish to be dealt with as early as possible so he can return home.

“He left his family, his wife and children, in quite a difficult and precarious position. They are struggling.”

Judge Paul Watson QC told Zdrava: “You were responsible for looking after a substantial cannabis growing operation.

“This was a very substantial operation being carried out on a commercial scale.

“It’s thought that the potential for the cannabis grow was a crop worth up to £400,000 a year.

Source:  https://www.gazettelive.co.uk/news/teesside-news/exploited-sparky-hoped-uk-job-18181497