'Gardener' caught in £138,000 cannabis factory said he 'was there to have a bath'
A man who was caught in a cannabis factory containing more than 130 plants worth almost £140,000 claimed he was there to have a bath.
Sentencing him at Cardiff Crown Court, Judge Jeremy Jenkins said: “In each case the evidence of the expert was that this was a sophisticated and highly professional set-up.”
The court heard Gwent Police were called to a report of an assault at a property in Corporation Road in Newport on January 5.
Jenny Yeo, prosecuting, said officers could see the defendant inside but he refused to open the door and they forced entry.
Kareem escaped and there was no sign of an assault or anyone else inside but the officers found 190 mature plants in six rooms along with a bag of dried cannabis.
The court heard the plants would have had a potential street value of between £34,000 and £125,000 depending on whether they reached full maturity and how they were sold.(Image: Crown Prosecution Service)
An expert described them as “well-maintained” and anticipated a higher yield. The dried cannabis was worth up to £2,860.
Police found Kareem further along Corporation Road and arrested him. He provided a prepared statement, denying any involvement in the cultivation of cannabis.
Nine days later, on January 14, police executed a search warrant at another property in Corporation Road.
Ms Yeo said officers went into an upstairs bedroom and saw Kareem on the roof outside climbing down.
They found 132 plants being grown in two rooms plus two bags of dried cannabis. The expert estimated the potential street value between £23,000 and £138,000.(Image: Crown Prosecution Service)
Kareem was arrested again and gave another prepared statement, claiming he had been allowed into the property to have a bath and had no knowledge of the cannabis.
The court heard he did not have any previous convictions but was cautioned in November 2018 for possessing cannabis.
Kareem, 29, who does not have a permanent address, admitted two counts of producing cannabis. He entered a basis of plea stating he was a “gardener” and paid £300 for his work.
Harry Baker, defending, argued his client played a lesser role and not a significant role as alleged by the prosecution.
Kareem was in the dock with a Kurdish interpreter and the court heard he was likely to be deported following his sentence.
Judge Jenkins said: “The professional nature of the business and the sheer extent of the enterprise is too serious to be dealt with by anything short of immediate custody.”
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He said there was no evidence to contradict the defendant’s basis of plea that he was a gardener living in basic conditions.
The judge noted there was evidence of past growth with cannabis harvested, dried, and prepared for onward sale.
Kareem was jailed for 16 months and must serve half of that in custody before he can be released on licence. The judge made an order for the drugs to be destroyed.