Bestwood cannabis gardener feared what Albanian gang would do to his family

Photo shows Part of the grow which was found
-Credit: (Image: Nottinghamshire Police)

A gardener tending to a cannabis farm worth upwards of £170,000 was caught covered in cropped leaves and wearing gloves when police forced their way into a Nottingham house. Nottingham Crown Court heard how Renato Kutrici had not long been released from prison for the exact same offence in Coventry when he was snared in Bestwood.

The 39-year-old’s defence barrister, Laura Pitman, told the hearing her client became involved in the illegal enterprise through an Albanian gang to whom his family owed money.

And she said now he is “just desperate to go home” to his wife and three children when he is likely to be deported by the Home Office midway through his 10-month sentence. Jailing Kutrici, Recorder Anna Trussler said: “This was a professionally set up system, a proper operation with the electricity being bypassed which is clearly a serious hazard.

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"I have heard what has been said about your role in this and I accept you were acting as a gardener. But given your previous conviction for the same offence, you must have been aware of the scale of the operation.

"I have heard about the background as to how you came to the UK and I have some sympathy for the mess you and your family found yourselves in.” Dan Scothern, prosecuting, said police executed a warrant at an address in Mardling Avenue at around 8.30am on April 11.

He said officers knocked at the door and when there was no answer they forced their way inside. The prosecutor said: “When they got in, the defendant was standing in the hallway with his arms raised.

"He was wearing gardening gloves and was covered in green matter. No other people were at the address.

"There were 205 individual plants in various stages of growth throughout multiple areas of the property and each individual area had its own system with lights, food and a watering system. The drugs expert estimates that the valuation of the cannabis, depending on how it was sold on the street, would be between £57,400 and £172,220.”

Kutrici, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to production of cannabis. His previous conviction for the same offence saw him jailed for six months when he appeared at Warwick Crown Court in August last year.

Miss Potman said her client’s family got into debt with criminals in Albania to pay for medical treatment when he was left unable to walk following a road traffic collision in 2011. She said that is why he came to the UK to try to help pay off those debts.

Miss Pitman said: “He understands now there were other available options to him and that he could have called the police or the authorities. But the difficulty would be what might happen to his family back home in Albania. He is just desperate to go home.”