AN illegal immigrant forced to work in a cannabis factory to pay off £14,000 he owed to the people who trafficked him to the country has been jailed.

Police found more than 120 cannabis plants when they raided a home in Tollgate Drive, Stanway, in April.

Two bedrooms, the dining room and the lounge were filled with the drugs along with sophisticated growing equipment including high powered lights hanging from the ceiling and plastic sheeting on the floor.

Elvis Dalipaj was the only person there and was arrested.

He declined to answer questions from the police, only telling them he was from Albania.

The 23-year-old admitted being concerned in the cultivation of cannabis on the basis he was coerced into it.

Chelmsford Crown Court heard he had been brought into the country ten months ago owing £10,000 to the criminals who brought him in on the back of a lorry.

He began working in a car wash where he was only given pocket money and the rest of the money he earned was handed to his debtors.

After it shut, he got casual shifts on a building site.

But soon after, he was taken to the address in Stanway and was given instructions each day on what needed to be done to grow the drugs.

He was not allowed to leave, food was dropped off for him and the only money he earned was used to pay off his debt.

Dalipaj, whose UK address was given as Tollgate Drive, was there for three weeks before the police raid.

Steven Levy, mitigating, said: "He owed the debt and was working to repay it."

Judge Timothy Walker jailed him for eight months.

He said: "This was a commercial operation growing a significant number or cannabis plants.

"It looked like a house but was in fact a cannabis factory.

"Although you were working there to pay off the debt to the people who brought you to the UK, you must have known what was happening."