AN illegal immigrant cannabis gardener who ran a farm in Worcester is now behind bars and facing possible deportation to his native Albania.

Elian Lici was responsible for a grow with 250 plants in Trent Close when police raided the house, specially converted to be a cannabis factory.

The 26-year-old had admitted production of the class B drug when he appeared at Worcester Crown Court for sentence on Friday following the search warrant, executed on August 26 this year at around 9.10am.

Woman's tears as she begs 'take my licence'

Tom Griffiths, prosecuting, said: "They had to force entry into that property and found Mr Lici inside."

Inside they discovered 170 mature plants and 80 saplings split between five different rooms - although his solicitor claimed Lici did not know the plans he was cultivating were cannabis.

The electricity supply had been tampered with and extra ventilation and lighting had been installed, the court heard. In interview Lici made admissions to police that he had been looking after the plants and was paid £5,000 per month to do so.

Paedophile who got girl of 13 pregnant back in court

Barry Newton, defending, said his client's instructions were that for a sum of £7,000 his move to the UK could be arranged.

He added: "When he got to the restaurant where he was to start work to pay off that debt he had no longer got his identity papers or his passport. He doesn't know whether he lost these or somebody took them.

"He was approached initially to do some painting work by other people - then he was told to become the gardener at the address where the drugs were found. The money he was paid cleared that debt apparently."

He admitted that he had continued his involvement to raise enough money to go home.

"In his interview the police had to explain to him about cannabis. He didn't actually know what these plants were. He had an inkling that what he was being asked to do or told to do or paid to do was illegal" said Mr Newton.

The city solicitor argued that his client was acting under direction and 'potentially some pressure to do it' with 'his involvement through naivety and potentially through exploitation'.

He explained that immigration services were now involved in the case and that Lici 'isn't going to argue about any orders or proposals he's deported at some point'.

Judge Nicolas Cartwright sentenced Lici to 16 months in prison, half of which he can expect to serve in custody and half on licence. This sentence reflected a third discount in the length of the custodial sentence to take into account the defendant's guilty plea at the earliest opportunity opportunity and his lack of previous convictions. Time the defendant has already spent in custody awaiting sentence will also count towards how long he ultimately spends in prison.

Judge Cartwright told Lici: "It's not for me to make any orders about your immigration status. That is for the Home Office."

Judge Cartwright ordered the forfeiture and destruction of the cannabis plants and associated paraphernalia. A victim surcharge of £156 was also imposed which must be paid by Lici within three months of his release.