A CANNABIS farmer is seeking to extend his right to stay in the UK – despite being caught at a grow in a house worth up to £85,000.

Emestas Gudas successfully tended to one crop of the controlled class B drug and was rumbled growing a second valuable yield.

But the 32-year-old was caught after police received intelligence, and he was later charged with and admitted his role in the production of cannabis/

He was sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court on Thursday, appearing via video link from HM Prison Altcourse and assisted by a Lithuanian interpreter.

Opening the case, prosecutor Christopher Taylor informed the court of how the defendant was arrested at around 6.25pm on Tuesday, May 14, at a property on Rydal Street in Newton-le-Willows.

Officers from Merseyside Police had gone to the address looking for a named individual.

Initially, there was no response, and when officers spoke to neighbours, they said that the named person no longer lived there, but added that they suspected a cannabis farm was operating from inside.

Police went back to the property and the defendant answered the door. Officers noted the smell of cannabis and Gudas said he had been smoking the drug inside.

He was arrested on suspicion of possessing the class B controlled drug, but when officers examined the property, they found the ‘significant production’ of cannabis across two rooms.

One of the rooms in which a cannabis farm was found in the property

One of the rooms in which a cannabis farm was found in the property

The electricity to the property had been breached, but no formal charge was brought against him in respect of this, with it instead being treated as an aggravating factor.

In total, 68 plants were seized from the address, with a potential yield of between 1.9kg and 5.7kg of female flowering head cannabis.

The lowest estimated value of the crop was £7,616, with a high value of up to £85,680.

The court heard how Gudas was ‘fully co-operative’ during his police interview, telling officers that most of the equipment was already set up when he arrived, but that he did set up some lamps.

He also admitted planting seeds for the first crop, for which he was paid £3,000, with the plants seized being the second crop.

The defendant said he was not involved in the onward sale of the cannabis, claiming that other people came to collect the crop when it was harvested.

He denied being a victim of human trafficking and said he was living in the property rent-free while tending to the crop.

It was heard that Gudas has no previous convictions and had been given leave to remain in the UK until 2026, having arrived in 2018 – with the process currently ongoing to extend this.

On behalf of his client, Ben Berkson, defending, mitigated by highlighting his ‘candid, full and frank’ admissions to police and his motivations of financial gain.

Some of the plands and cannabis after being harvested

Some of the plands and cannabis after being harvested

It was also suggested that there was an element of exploitation, with Gudas being homeless and unemployed before engaging in criminality, with him therefore being an ‘easy target’.

It was added that the defendant is remorseful, wants to earn a lawful living and is assessed as posing a low risk of reoffending.

“The Probation Service can help this man get back on his feet, in stable accommodation and on the straight and narrow,” Mr Berkson said.

“Unpaid work is appropriate punishment. Immediate imprisonment in an overpopulated prison estate is not the only appropriate punishment.”

This view was rejected by judge David Aubrey however, who said: “The court accepts you were receiving instructions from others, but by doing what you were doing, you were a significant part in this operation.

“I am invited to suspend the sentence of imprisonment. I tell you immediately that I cannot do so.

“In my judgement, appropriate punishment can only be achieved by way of immediate custody.”

Gudas was subsequently sentenced to two years immediate imprisonment, of which the court heard it is ‘extremely likely’ he will serve less than half due to early release provisions in force.

A Proceeds of Crime Act hearing has been scheduled for September 13 to determine what, if any, he should repay.