AN ALBANIAN man turned to growing cannabis out of “desperation” after his asylum application had been rejected, a court heard.

Police raided an address on Pantteg in Ystalyfera on the morning of April 14, prosecutor Mr Bowen said. Redis Shahini was found in the living room, and was detained after he initially tried to run.

Upstairs in the property, two grow rooms had been set up, with cannabis plants under lighting and covered with plastic sheets. The electricity had also been bypassed.

There were 35 plants in the first room and 31 in the second – all of varying stages of maturity, Mr Bowen said.

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Shahini was arrested at 10.10am and officers seized two mobile phones and a key to the property from him.

He was interviewed later that day as to his involvement in the cannabis operation and the legality of his status in the UK. He answered no comment to all questions.

“The defendant entered the United Kingdom illegally,” Mr Bowen said. “He subsequently applied for asylum, but that application was refused on September 20 last year.”

Shahini, 20, of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty to producing cannabis at Swansea Magistrates’ Court on April 15.

South Wales Guardian: Redis Shahini has been jailed for growing cannabis.Redis Shahini has been jailed for growing cannabis. (Image: South Wales Police)

“Some of the strongest mitigation I can give on the defendant’s behalf is that he entered an unequivocal guilty plea at the earliest opportunity,” said Caitlin Brazel, appearing for Shahini.

“The defendant tells me this morning that he is extremely remorseful.

“The defendant is still a young man of just 20 years of age and was, prior to this offence, of completely clean character. His involvement with the operation on this occasion was entirely out of character for him.”

Ms Brazel told the court that the defendant had said he arrived in the UK on “a very small boat” after leaving his native Albania due to “a blood feud”.

“It was an extremely difficult decision to leave his family,” she said.

Addressing Shahini, Judge Huw Rees said: “By producing cannabis, you helped to maintain – if not increase – the level of the drug available for dissemination.

“It’s the circumstances that you found yourself in, coming to this country illegally, which no doubt led you to offending in the way you did.

“It cannot have been easy for you to have left your family in Albania.

“I am sensitive to the desperation you must have been under as a result of your circumstances.”

Shahini was sentenced to 12 months in a young offender institute. He will serve half of this sentence before he is released and deported back to Albania.