A teenage cannabis farmer has been locked up for eight months after he was caught tending 213 plants in six rooms at a large four-storey house in Bradford.

Drilon Zelaj, 19, was living at the address in Daisy Hill Back Lane when the police forced their way in on May 16, Bradford Crown Court heard today.

Aged 18 at the time he was arrested, Zelaj was visibly distressed when he was sentenced on a video link to HMP Doncaster where he was remanded.

He at first denied production of cannabis but changed his plea to guilty last week, the court was told.

Prosecutor Ken Green said Zelaj, an Albanian national, had no previous convictions in the United Kingdom.

Police officers acting on intelligence knocked on the door at the address but got no response although they could hear someone moving about inside.

They broke in through the front door and arrested Zelaj, Mr Green said.

The cannabis grow was on a commercial scale with 213 plants spread over six rooms. The electricity supply had been bypassed and there were 71 lights and 60 transformers.

Zelaj’s fingerprints were found on fans, bulbs and sockets, the court was told.

There was a well-stocked fridge with supermarket receipts for food and other essentials.

The keys to the house were in the front door.

Zelaj at first said he was forced to tend the plants and threatened by people he didn’t know. He didn’t set up the factory but his role was to water the plants and turn the lights on and off.

Mr Green conceded that although it was a commercial cannabis farm capable of yielding large quantities of the drug, Zelaj had played a lesser role in the organisation.

John Bottomley said in mitigation that the teenager was an economic migrant who was promised work in the construction industry.

He came into the country from France hoping to send money back to his large and impoverished family in Albania.

Zelaj at first worked at a car wash before being told to tend the cannabis plants.

Mr Bottomley said he was vulnerable to exploitation and very distressed by the legal proceedings.

Recorder Jamie Hill QC sentenced Zelaj to eight months in a young offender institution.

“Commercial cannabis grows are cropping up all over the north of England and organised crime groups are making a lot of money,” he said.

But Zelaj had been exploited after coming here hoping for a better life.

“It’s unlikely that you were going to make very much money out of this,” he told him.

Recorder Hill said the Home Office will decide what to do about Zelaj after he has served his sentence.