A CANNABIS courier and illegal immigrant is today behind bars because he drove an uninsured Mercedes, York Crown Court heard.

Rob Galley, prosecuting, said when North Yorkshire Police pulled Shkelqim Meta, 33, over near Wetherby Services on the A1(M) to discuss the traffic crime on September 2, they smelt the drug and searched the car.

Inside they found 7.32 kg of skunk cannabis worth about £70,000 in street deals.

He had been convicted of having a fake immigration document in March, driving without insurance and driving without a licence in a separate case.

Philip Standfast, defending, said Meta had been in the country for about six years, working in car washes and other cash in hand jobs without coming to the attention of the police.

"He could be deported at any moment as an illegal immigrant to the country," he said.

Meta, of Dinely Street, Gloucester, and originally of Albania, pleaded guilty to possessing cannabis with intent to supply it to others, driving without insurance on the A1(M) and driving without a licence on the A1(M).

"It is clear you picked up the cannabis, likely somewhere in Yorkshire and then were heading down south to deliver it," Recorder Richard Woolfall told him.

Meta, who followed proceedings with the aid of an Albanian translator, was given a nine-month prison sentence and was banned from driving for 15 and a half months.

Mr Galley said Meta was caught on CCTV in Darlington at 2.20pm on September 2 buying two "bags for life" with another man who gave him the purchase money.

When he was stopped at 4.40pm, the bags and another bag had seven vacuum wrapped packages of cannabis each weighing roughly a kilo.

Mr Standfast said Meta had been given £200 for the journey, a figure the judge said was probably slightly under what Meta was really paid.