Man tried to flee onto roof during dramatic cannabis raid
- Credit: Jenny Comper
A man who was smuggled over to the UK to look after cannabis plants tried to escape onto the roof to flee police during a raid on the north Norfolk coast, a court has heard.
Police executed a warrant at two flats at High Street, Sheringham, and found cannabis grows of "approximately 75 mature plants in each flat".
King's Lynn Crown Court heard officers could hear "someone in the loft" and saw 20-year-old Oskeol Zalli climb out onto the roof.
Shanice Mahmud, prosecuting, said Zalli was arrested after he lowered himself down to the court yard.
The defendant told police he had been brought over to the UK to act as a gardener and had fled to the roof as he thought the police were "people coming to get the cannabis".
He said he met a man in Belgium about five months before he was arrested and was "smuggled over to the UK on a lorry".
The court was told he was charged £23,000 for travel to the UK and "would have to work to pay that off" although at the time had no idea what work he would have to carry out.
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The defendant, an Albanian national, told police he felt "forced to undertake" the work by others who made threats to his family and said they knew where they lived.
Zalli, of High Street, Sheringham, who spoke through an interpreter, appeared at court on Tuesday (April 5) for sentence having previously admitted producing a controlled drug of class B following the raid on February 8 this year.
Recorder Justin Rouse described it as a "commercial operation" with about 150 cannabis plants growing in both flats and the "whole floor space used to grow mature cannabis plants".
He gave Zalli credit for his plea, but said anyone who participates in this type of operation must expect custody, and gave him 12 months in a young offenders institution (YOI).
Jonathan Goodman, mitigating, said his client was still just 20 and said his strongest piece of mitigation was his early guilty plea.
He said Zalli was of previous good character and had "felt under pressure to continue doing this criminal action".