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Cannabis factory found in industrial unit after police raid

PUBLISHED: 13:05 24 January 2020 | UPDATED: 13:05 24 January 2020

Norwich Crown Court. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

Norwich Crown Court. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

Jamie Honeywood Archant Norwich Norfolk

A cannabis factory with about 400 plants was discovered when police raided an industrial unit in Great Yarmouth.

Police found a professional heating and lighting set up in the Owen Road unit on the Harfreys industrial estate and discovered Kristi Nikolla, 27, and another man in an office area, which had been converted into a rough sleeping area with just a mattress on the floor.

Marc Brown, prosecuting at Norwich Crown Court, said the electricity meter had been bypassed and said the plants were in various stages of growth, however most were in just the early stages. He said: "The majority of them were in the juvenile stage."

He said that Nikolla admitted he acted as a gardener tending to the plants and had only been involved in the operation for about two weeks.

Nikolla, who had the help of an Albanian interpreter, admitted being concerned in the cultivation of cannabis between July 14 and August 2, last year and was jailed for six months.

The court heard that Nikolla had overstayed his visa to the UK and now faced being deported

Sentencing him, Judge Stephen Holt accepted his was a lesser role.

"I am sure there are people above you in the chain making a great deal of money. Your role is a lesser role and very much at the lower end."

He said the fact he had overstayed his visa meant he was vulnerable because gaining work legally would be very difficult.

Judge Holt said his time spent on remand would be mean he would be released shortly, although it would now be in the hands of the immigration authority to return him to Albania.

He told Nikolla: "I strongly advise you to go back to Albania and take up your life back there."

Danielle O'Donovan, for Nikolla, said that he had been in the UK for 16 months and had been working in a car wash but had built up debts and had overstayed his visa: "His options were very limited,"

He was then given a chance to make some cash but was not told at first it was involving drugs.

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