AN ALBANIAN who was caught at a £167,000 cannabis farm in the centre of Ayr is set to return to his home country after a bid to have him classified as a human trafficking victim was rejected.

A court heard that Elion Kullag thought he’d come to Scotland to carry out restoration works on the building – while his solicitor said the 33-year-old had effectively been locked inside the property.

Kullag pleaded guilty to producing the class B drug after police raided the property in the High Street nearly a year ago.

Ayr Sheriff Court was told that an application to have Kullag officially designated a victim of human trafficking – which would have seen criminal charges dropped – had been turned down by the Home Office.

Kullag, who was remanded in custody the day after his arrest on January 30 last year, was handed a backdated prison sentence that effectively saw him released from custody to return to Albania.

Procurator fiscal depute Chris Munro said: "At 8am on Monday, January 30, 2023, police received an anonymous report of a strong smell of cannabis at 50 High Street, Ayr.

“At 10.40am, police noticed the strong smell of cannabis emitting from the property.

“Due to it being an old building, with other residential properties, entry was forced due to concern at the fire risk.

“On entry it became apparent it was a cannabis cultivation. There was a separate living quarters with mattresses and bedding.

“The accused and two former co-accused were cautioned and informed they were under arrest.”

Mr Munro said the cultivation was discovered over three rooms; in the first, 195 juvenile cannabis plants were found, each valued at between £200 and £600, with an upper value of £117,000.

He continued. “Two further rooms on the second floor had plants cropped and used for drying stems; 12.94 kilograms were found.

“The wholesale value for one kilogram is £3,800, totalling £49,172.”

Kullag was cautioned and charged and made no reply before being held in custody to appear at court the following day, when he was remanded.

His defence solicitor said: “He is an Albanian national, showing signs of human trafficking. The Home Office recognised these signs, but their investigation concluded in December with a negative decision.

"Although it was effectively a cannabis factory, it is his position that there was a key to the lock and he couldn't have left. 

"He advises that once his sentence ends, he wishes to return to Albania.

“He had been brought to the cannabis factory expecting to be carrying out restoration works on the building.

"He had been there a short period of time, and when he got there, realised what he was there to do."

Sheriff Desmond Leslie asked for a same-day social work report for later in the afternoon, to avoid deferring sentence for several weeks.

Kullag, whose address was listed as HMP Barlinnie, received a two-year sentence backdated to January 31, 2023 – meaning that having served almost half his sentence he will soon be eligible for early release and able to return home.