Immigrant with fake ID ran cannabis farm in Newport
An illegal immigrant was stopped in Bridgnorth with a poorly-faked ID card and when police went on to investigate his house in Newport they found a full-blown cannabis farm.
Gezim Kokoshi, 24, has been jailed for more than two years after admitting to cultivating more than 80 plants.
The Albanian, who was in the country illegally, tried to fool officials with an Italian national identity card in another man's name, with his own picture taped over the top and alterations made by pen.
Police were suspicious when they asked him his date of birth and he was unable to provide the one printed on the card.
He was jailed at Shrewsbury Crown Court on Monday after he pleaded guilty to the offences of producing a class B drug and having an identity document "with improper intent".
Prosecutor Suzanne Francis said: "On July 9 of this year around noon, police stopped a black Ford on the Stourbridge Road in Bridgnorth due to the manner it was being driven in.
"This defendant was the passenger, there was a strong smell of cannabis in the car.
"During the search the police found £2,000 in cash and false travel documents.
"Checks were made with immigration and it transpired he was here illegally."
The officers arrested Kokoshi and took his house keys from him, before heading to the address at Upper Bar in Newport.
Once they were inside it became immediately apparent that cannabis was being grown there, Miss Francis said.
More than 80 plants were being cultivated across the three floors, and 150 seedlings were also found in one area. Miss Francis said the crown had no reports indicating the potential value or yield of the plants.
She said that extensive damage had been done to the house, including to the electricity supply which had been tampered with and re-routed. It cost £6,000 to repair the damage to the electricity.
Representing Kokoshi, Brendan Reedy said that he came from a "respectable" family and had never been in court before.
He said Kokoshi had completed a Navigations course at a college in his own country, but struggled to get a job other than waiting tables so came to England illegally last summer.
Because of his illegal status he found it hard to find stable employment however, and in February of this year was offered £200 to £300 a month to look after the cannabis grow in Newport, Mr Reedy said.
He went on: "It's close to an offer you can't refuse. You can refuse it but being vulnerable, you tend to accept it.
"He wasn't the person who set this up, or the person who was going to make the real profit from the growth of the crops.
"He was just there as a gardener.
"The identity card was not a sophisticated forgery. Even the most cursory glance would have seen there was something wrong.
"I can't imagine for one moment that that would pass muster at any border."
He pointed out that the man who was driving the car when they were stopped wasn't prosecuted.
Kokoshi had applied to have an Albanian interpreter for the hearing but one was not arranged in time. Nevertheless Kokoshi made clear that he wanted the hearing to go ahead so he would know his fate.
Judge Jonathan Gosling told Kohoshi: "I know you weren't the main person but you were helping to manage the business and you were being paid for it, and it was well established.
"You're still young and we you have never been in trouble before, and I will make the sentence shorter because of that."
For producing cannabis he gave him 26 months in jail and for the fake ID he added two months to run consecutively.
He also warned him that he would be deported after his release from prison.
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