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Man deported over drug factory sneaked back to UK - to run a Norwich cannabis farm

PUBLISHED: 13:26 05 July 2019 | UPDATED: 15:26 05 July 2019

A cannibis farm was found in Hellesdon, Norwich. Picture: Norwich Police

A cannibis farm was found in Hellesdon, Norwich. Picture: Norwich Police

Archant

A man who was deported last year for drug production in London was soon back in the UK to run another cannabis factory - this time on the edge of Norwich, a court heard.

Ernest Sulaj was sentanced to 32 months for production of cannabis. Picture: NORFOLK CONSTABULARYErnest Sulaj was sentanced to 32 months for production of cannabis. Picture: NORFOLK CONSTABULARY

Ernest Sulaj, from Albania, was found on January 25 at a house on Rye Avenue, Hellesdon, tending a crop of plants worth £84,000, Norwich Crown Court was told.

The police raid happened just four months after Sulaj was deported after being released from prison for a similar offence in the capital.

On Friday, prosecutor Chris Youell told the court police executed a drugs warrant at Rye Avenue and found the house had been turned into a cannabis factory with 177 cannabis plants at various stages of growth and Sulaj was the only person there.

Mr Youell said Sulaj, 24, had been jailed previously and deported, and by January 25 was back in the UK illegally.

He said: "We don't know when he started working in the cannabis factory."

Mr Youell said Sulaj said had been tending to the plants and said there were a number of plants in each room in the property as well as lighting and plastic lining to provide a "professional" growing operation, to maximise the yield.

However Mr Youell said there was no evidence Sulaj had been involved in the actual setting up the cannabis factory.

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Sulaj, who appeared over a video link from Norwich Prison, admitted production of cannabis and said he was happy for his case to go ahead without the need for an interpreter.

Jailing him for 32 months, Judge Stephen Holt said: "The aggravating feature is the fact that you had been in court before for doing precisely the same thing."

the potential yield of the cannabis growing operation was high, with a potential street value of £84000.

Michael Clare, for Sulaj, said he deserved credit for his guilty plea.

"He pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity."

He said that although Sulaj had been involved in cannabis production before that did not mean he had any expertise, and said: "It is not unusual for the gardener to be the only one caught."

He said that in May this year he had made an application for asylum in this country and said: "Any future deportation will be affected by that."

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