A 31-year-old man has been sentenced to 20 months in prison at Northampton Crown Court after pleading guilty to drugs and weapon offences.
Taulant Celaj was stopped driving a white Ford Transit van by Northamptonshire Police shortly after 4am on Sunday, April 30, on the A43 between Kettering and Northampton, after reports the vehicle had been used in a suspected burglary.
Officers responding to the report of a break-in in Princes Street, Kettering, had discovered a cannabis factory inside the residential property, with more than 80 plants at various stages of growth spread across several rooms.
There was also evidence that cannabis had been recently harvested from one of the rooms, with remnants of the plants found on the stairwell. Following the swift actions of the officers at the scene, details of a suspected vehicle were identified and circulated.
Soon afterwards, two officers stopped the van on the A43 and found the sole occupant – Celaj – sitting in the driver’s seat. Checks established that he was disqualified from driving and had no insurance.
Following a strong smell of cannabis coming from the van, officers conducted a search under the Misuse of Drugs Act and found a quantity of plants along with a rambo-style knife and a machete inside the vehicle.
Celaj was arrested and subsequently charged with possession with intent to supply a Class B drug – cannabis, two counts of possession of a knife blade/sharp pointed article in a public place, driving while disqualified and driving with no insurance.
On Monday, May 1, at Northampton Magistrates’ Court, Celaj of Aylesbury Drive, Houghton Regis in Bedfordshire, pleaded not guilty and his case was committed to crown court for trial by jury.
Celaj subsequently changed his plea and on Monday, September 11, at Northampton Crown Court he was sentenced to 15 months in prison for possession with intent to supply a Class B drug – cannabis.
He also received an additional five months to run consecutively for the possession of a knife blade/sharp pointed article in a public place and nine endorsement points on his licence for the traffic offences.
Celaj was also originally charged with one count of burglary dwelling and theft - no violence and one count of going equipped for burglary. At court, the Crown Prosecution Service offered no evidence, and these charges were withdrawn.
Lead investigator Detective Constable Ray Anderson, of the North LPA CID team, said: “Firstly, I would like to thank those who called us to report the suspected burglary taking place, which led to the discovery of this cannabis factory.
“People may think that the production of cannabis is a victimless crime, but what they don’t realise is those at the top of the chain make very large sums of money from producing and distributing the drug, while often exploiting vulnerable people at the same time.
“Drug harm is a matter of priority for the Force, and we will continue to tenaciously enforce and disrupt drug dealers, who prey on the most vulnerable people in our society and bring misery to our streets and communities.”
Last May, Chief Constable Nick Adderley launched the Force’s Matters of Priority for the next three years, and along with serious violence, serious and organised crime, violence against women and girls, drug harm was included. More details can be found at www.northants.police.uk
If anyone has concerns about drug dealing, or someone becoming drawn into gang culture, please report it to us on 101, online at www.northants.police.uk/ro or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.