Man ordered to pay back just £385 after getting caught with £60,000 worth of cannabis in Gainsborough

An Albanian chef who was caught with 171 cannabis plants in Gainsborough, valued at over £60,000, has been ordered to pay back just £385 by a judge.

Fabio Balliu, 23, of Main Street, Huthwaite, Nottinghamshire , was jailed for 27 months in January after police raided a house in Spring Gardens, Gainsborough.

Lincolnshire Police were initially alerted by a suspicious neighbour who believed a burglary was taking place on May 17, last year.

Officers attended at 10am the following morning and could immediately smell cannabis coming from inside the property and the sound of electric fans.

Cannabis plants valued at over £60,000 were found in Spring Gardens, Gainsborough.

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Balliu, who was living in Nottinghamshire, unlocked the front door and ran from the property but was stopped and arrested.

He told the officers: "Okay, I'm from Albania. My English isn't good."

Police found a living area in the front room with a couch bed and empty freezer which suggested the grower was possibly not living in the property.

Three growing areas were found in the house, with 87 cannabis plants in the flowering stage, and 84 cannabis plants in a vegetative state.

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Police also searched Balliu's home address in Nottinghamshire and found receipts from a DiY store in Sutton-in-Ashfield.

Balliu admitted producing cannabis and was jailed earlier this year after a judge told him: "You played a significant role and regularly travelled from Nottinghamshire to Gainsborough to tend this grow."

The case was adjourned for a proceeds of crime investigation to determine the value of the drugs and to see how much money could be seized from Balliu.

A proceeds of crime hearing at Lincoln Crown Court was told the value of the cannabis found at Spring Gardens was agreed at £60,054.

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However the court was told Balliu had available assests of just £385 which was in a bank account linked to the cannabis pr oduction.

Judge Catarina Sjolin Knight ordered Balliu to pay the sum of £385 within two months or face a further one day imprisonment.

The Judge told Balliu: "The benefit in this case is the value of the cannabis and the money in the bank account.

"You only have one reliable asset, which is the money in the bank account.”