Man told police he had been ordered by criminals to look after cannabis farm worth £80,000 at house in Chapeltown

A man arrested at a house in Leeds where a cannabis farm was growing told police he had been forced to look after the plants by criminals who trafficked him into the UK.

Thursday, 29th April 2021, 11:45 am

Denis Pepa was jailed for 12 months over the discovery of 112 plants at the property on Roundhay Mount, Chapeltown.

Leeds Crown Court heard West Yorkshire Police officers executed a search warrant at the house on March 30 this year.

Cannabis plants were found growing in four rooms of the property.

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Roundhay Mount.

Rooms had been equipped with heat lamps and plastic sheeting and the electricity supply had been bypassed.

Dave MacKay, prosecuting, said it was estimated that the plants were capable of producing £50,000 worth of the class B drug.

Dried cannabis worth £30,000 was also in the house and was ready for sale.

Pepa was at the property with his dog when he was arrested.

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The defendant said he had been ordered to tend the plants by criminals in order to repay the debt he owed them for arranging his entry into the UK.

Mr MacKay said: "The Crown have no evidence to support or contradict that."

Pepa, of Sycamore Avenue, Harehills, pleaded guilty to production of cannabis.

Bob Sastray, mitigating, said Pepa, an Albanian national, had been in the UK for 16 months prior to his arrest.

Mr Sastray said Pepa began a relationship with his girlfriend who lived close to the cannabis farm.

Mr Sastray said: "He was trafficked in to the country and in doing so there was a debt which accrued.

"He had agreed to pay £3,000 for being brought in.

"He was brought to the house about one week before his actual arrest.

"He was a gardener and had no involvement in the set-up. He had no idea of the scale of the operation."

Sentencing Pepa for 12 months, Judge Mushtaq Khokhar said: "I am prepared to accept that you were acting on behalf of someone else.

"You were not going to get the profits at the end of the harvest."