A MOLDOVA native who came to the UK to earn money before Brexit has been jailed for 20 months for “naively” growing £150,000 worth of cannabis.

Ion Spatarel appeared at Winchester Crown Court after pleading guilty to one count of producing a Class B drug.

The court heard how the 58-year-old was arrested on August 30 after energy company SSE had noticed a high electricity usage at a property in Weyhill Road, Weyhill.

When the electricity company visited the property Spatarel willing let them in and they quickly realised the home was being used to grow cannabis.

Prosecutor Colin Meeke told the court that there were four growing rooms in the property with a total of 366 plants at varying stages of growth.

Mr Meeke said: “A forensic expert said that this crop could make anything for £50,000 up to £150,000, with it being able to make four crops a year.”

The court heard that Spatarel had only been working at the property for three-and-a-half months after injuring himself while working a construction job.

Mr Meeke told the court that the defendant had taken the role for financial gain and stood to make up to £2,000 per month for growing the plants.

Defending Spatarel, Adrienne Knight said that he had come to the UK from Moldova to earn some money before Brexit to send back to his wife and three children.

Ms Knight described the 58-year-old as a “very naïve gentleman” and that he was in no way “Mr Big Drug Dealer”.

Ms Knight told the court that her client had always been in employment and was working a construction job when he came to the UK at the end of last year.

She said: “He suffered a back injury after a tree fell on him and he was no longer able to lift heavy weights.

“It was then he started looking for more work that someone on one of the sites he had been working offered him a job and the was told it was a farming job.”

Ms Knight added that he showed his naivety by helping grow the planets and letting in the SSE workers, thinking the UK had the same laws as Amsterdam when it came to cannabis production and he would just receive a fine.

She added: “He was doing this to send money back to his family.

“He is a hard-working person who just wans to go home.”

In sentencing Recorder Nicholas Haggan QC said that the 58-year-old had a “blameless and fruitful life” up until his part in this criminal activity.

Spatarel was sentenced to 20 months in jail.