Builder tried to fund wife’s cancer treatment by becoming cannabis factory gardener

Wellesley Road, Great Yarmouth. Photo: Nick Butcher

Wellesley Road, Great Yarmouth. Photo: Nick Butcher - Credit: Archant © 2008

A man tried to fund his wife’s treatment for breast cancer by getting involved in a cannabis factory, a court has heard.

Tomorr Capaj, 52, was a builder by trade in his native Albania but came to the UK to look for work after his wife needed treatment for the disease.

Norwich Crown Court heard that Capaj had worked initially as a builder but was to become involved in a cannabis factory in Wellesley Road, Great Yarmouth, where he had also been staying.

John Morgans, prosecuting, said police attended the address on March 29 and found the defendant was the only one present at the “cannabis growing factory”.

The court heard officers found nine rooms with approximately 20 to 30 cannabis plants in each at various stages of growth.

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Mr Morgans said officers found about 200 plants in total as well as other growing equipment.

He said the operation was “quite capable of producing significant quantities for commercial use”.

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He said the defendant had a limited role “acting under direction as a gardener”.

In addition to the cannabis plants and growing equipment, £425 in cash was found as well as some foreign cash, including Euros.

Capaj, of no fixed address, appeared at court via videolink on Thursday having previously admitted production of a class B drug, namely cannabis.

Andrew Oliver, mitigating, said Capaj had arrived in the UK in 2019 “to fund treatment because his wife developed breast cancer”.

He said the defendant, a builder by trade, did work as a builder initially but by the time of his arrest had been involved in the cannabis operation for a couple of months.

Mr Oliver said he knew it was illegal but “was trying to earn some money for his wife’s treatment”.

He said Capaj wanted to get back to his family and his wife who needed more treatment.

Mr Oliver added: “He knows he’s let her down”.

Sentencing Capaj to six months imprisonment, Judge Maureen Bacon, who conducted the sentencing hearing over Skype during the coronavirus lockdown, said there was “a significant number of cannabis plants found” but gave him credit for his plea.

An order was also made for forfeiture and destruction of all the cannabis plants and growing equipment.

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