A 63-year-old man was found with up to £26,000-worth of cannabis in his house after falling into debt to an Albanian drugs gang.Douglas Christopher, of Cardiff, was raided by police at his property in Llanrumney Avenue, Llanrumney, on February 27 last year when a search was carried out.He indicated to officers there were "kilos of blue cheese" in kitchen cupboards and he was believed to be referring to a strain of cannabis.Throughout the house and a car outside officers found a total of 4.862kg of cannabis worth between £20,080 and £26,080. More than £50,000 in cash was also discovered.Following his arrest Christopher told police he had borrowed £35,000 from an Albanian drugs gang who had "taken control of his life" and forced him into selling drugs in order to pay off his debt.
A sentencing hearing at Cardiff Crown Court was told the defendant would take deliveries of cannabis and would be allowed to keep £200 from each deal. He still owes in the region of £9,000.When asked if he could provide the names of the gang members the defendant refused to do over fears for his safety.Christopher later pleaded guilty to possession of cannabis with intent to supply on the basis the drugs and cash did not belong to him and he made no personal gain from the dealing.
Defence barrister Andrew Taylor told the court his client suffered with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) which left him with shortness of breath.
He added: "He foolishly became involved with a group of Albanian people who were not up-front with him. They offered him assistance and gradually started expecting things from him. Eventually he was over his head and realised he was in serious trouble."Sentencing, Recorder Bilal Siddique said a custodial sentenced was "inevitable" but he was prepared to suspended the sentence due to Christopher's good character since his last conviction in 1976.The defendant was sentenced to 12 weeks custody suspended for 18 months and he was ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work.