Police turned up at a Coventry house and found their way upstairs was barred by a metal gate protecting access to a large-scale cannabis factory.
But they were able to reach through and open it because Albanian ‘gardener’ Leonard Nikolli had fallen asleep among the plants without locking the gate.
And at Warwick Crown Court, Nikolli, aged 22 of no fixed address, was jailed for 20 months after pleading guilty to producing cannabis.
Prosecutor David Jackson said that on the afternoon of October 13 the police executed a search warrant at a house in Holbrook Lane, Holbrooks, Coventry.
“On the staircase was a metal gate welded into place, but the officers were able to reach through and unbolt it to get to the upstairs
“They found the defendant asleep in bed in the front bedroom, and also in that room were two bags of cannabis, one just under two kilos and the other 320 grams.”
In the bedrooms there were also a total of 146 cannabis plants being grown in compost, and the electricity meter had been by-passed.
When he was questioned, Nikolli said he had arrived in this country from Albania three months earlier in the back of a lorry, believing he was going to be found construction work.
He had agreed to borrow £25,000 to be brought here, and was told he had to repay a total of £27,000.
Nikolli said he was staying in London, but a few days before his arrest he had a call from someone in France telling him to go to Coventry to work there to pay off the debt more quickly.
He said he was driven to the address where he was visited by a man he did not know who told him he had to work there for a week, or bad things would happen to his family.
“He said he had told the man he did not want to work there, but he was scared to leave even though he had keys to the property.
“He said he was supposed to keep the gate locked, but kept falling asleep while working,” said Mr Jackson.
Nikolli added that the bags of cannabis had been dropped off by the same man, and he had been told to take them inside, which he did, but then fell asleep.
Michael McAlinden, defending, said: “It is a familiar story. He has come here from poverty, and he was given the promise that he would be given construction work in this country.
“He is then told he has to work to pay the debt off, and he said he had two options – to run away or to do this.
“The heavily-fortified gate had been left unlocked, and the police were able to simply reach through and unbolt it, and they found the hapless Mr Nikolli asleep in the daytime.”