Across six specially-equipped rooms police officers found 645 cannabis plants being grown and it was estimated that the crop could have been worth £1 million.
But the illegal Albanian immigrant who was working as a “gardener” at the site in Brearton Street avoided an immediate jail sentence today (Tues) after Judge Colin Burn said there was no public interest in him being kept in this country at British taxpayers’ expense.
Married father-of-three Fatjon Jaupas, 38, pleaded guilty to production of cannabis following his arrest at the former mill building on May 24 and today Judge Burn suspended his 24-month jail term for two years.
The judge explained that the two-year jail sentence inevitably meant that Jaupas would be deported back to Albania, but he suspended the term saying: "I’m further satisfied there is no public interest in you being kept in this country at British taxpayers’ expense.”
Judge Burn said he expected Jaupas to be taken from prison to an immigration detention centre and steps to be taken “forthwith” for him to be returned to Albania.
Bradford Crown Court heard how police forced entry into the large building last month and found more than 200 plants along with equipment including lights, electric transformers and extractor units in two ground floor rooms.
Prosecutor Deborah Smithies said the staircase to the upper floors was blocked and the only access was via ladder.
The police found a “cutting and drying room” on the first floor along with more than 150 plants in two more rooms.
She said a living area was found with “a freezer full of food” and there was a CCTV system which monitored the entry area to the premises.
On the upper floor two more growing rooms contained a further 290 plants and Jaupas was eventually found hiding in a small loft area accessed by a ladder and a ceiling hatch.
After his arrest Jaupas said he had been working to pay off a debt, but made no comment during his police interview.
Miss Smithies did not have precise information about the potential yield or value of the plants, but she said she had been told informally that the value could be in the region of £1 million.
Barrister Rodney Ferm, for Jaupas, said there was no evidence his client was anything but a “gardener” at the premises and that was why he had been left there.
He said Jaupas had come to the country illegally and had been working in the “black economy” at various construction sites and car washes.
“It was only a matter of time before he met up with people who directed him to this operation,” said Mr Ferm. “He has no future in this country and his wish now is to go back to Albania.”