POLICE who turned up at a Great Lever terraced house in search of a wanted woman discovered rooms packed with fully-grown cannabis plants.

Criminals had employed an Albanian illegal immigrant to act as a gardener for the 134 plants at the house in Calvert Road.

He was arrested and has now been jailed for two years after appearing at Bolton Crown Court and pleading guilty to producing cannabis.

Kate Gaskell, prosecuting, told how 19-year-old Alban Hyka opened the door to officers when they called at the mid-terraced house on June 22 last year.

“They noticed white plastic sheeting indicative of a cannabis farm, as a result of which a search was undertaken of the property,” said Miss Gaskell.

“In total 134 cannabis plants were discovered, all of which were mature plants, spread across the ground floor front room, front bedroom, loft and rear bedroom.”

All the rooms were fitted with substantial heating and fan equipment, and ventilation pipes were installed.

Even the landing was used to store a box containing 98 seedlings.

Experts estimate the plants at the house would have produced a yield of about 5.4kg of the drug.

Following his arrest, Hyka told police he had been at the house for three weeks, watering and feeding the plants and had been promised £4,000 to work there for two months.

The court heard that Hyka had entered the UK illegally in August last year and had initially worked cash-in-hand in the construction industry in Coventry before friends invited him to come to Bolton.

Stephen Bailey, defending, said Hyka had not come to the UK with the intention of committing crime, but his family in Albania was poor and he wanted to send money back to them.

“He was approached by another who seduced him with the promise of better pay.

"In short, he took a risk knowing he was committing a crime,” said Mr Bailey.

He added that, after caring for one crop of cannabis, Hyka had intended to go back to his home country or find more non-criminal work. He has never been paid for the cannabis gardening he did.

Sentencing Hyka to two years in prison, Judge Graeme Smith told him: “It was essentially a full-time job and you were to receive significant financial reward.

“You have been open and candid about what you have done.”