South Scotland

Man jailed over Galashiels town centre cannabis farm

A man who claimed he was a victim of human trafficking has been jailed after admitting running a cannabis farm in Galashiels town centre.

Mirjan Kastrati, 30, said he fled Albania fearing for his life and had to pay traffickers to escape to Britain.

In order to repay his debt he said he was forced to look after a £200,000 drugs crop in a former bookmakers.

He admitted being concerned in the supply of drugs and was jailed for 30 months at Selkirk Sheriff Court.

The court heard how police raiding the town centre building found 700 cannabis plants while Kastrati slept in the kitchen area.

He insisted he had only been sent there to act as security and was never the "gardener" of the cultivation and had no role in setting up the cannabis farm.

Sheriff David Clapham took into account the arguments put forward by defence lawyer Urfan Dar saying that in previous cases the starting point would be a four-year jail sentence.

He explained he was able to have a lower starting point and sentenced Kastrati to two-and-a-half years in jail backdated to April when he was first taken into custody in connection with the matter.

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