Taxpayers spent an ‘extraordinary’ £10,000 on Albanian interpreters for an illegal immigrant cocaine dealer who long-denied his crimes.  

Martin Ndreca, 24, finally pleaded guilty to cocaine dealing in Gloucestershire last week – but not before a huge amount of public funding had already been spent on translating thousands of text messages. 

Despite receiving ‘robust advice’ by his defence team, Ndreca had previously chosen to ‘ignore it’ and refused to ‘confront’ his situation, a court heard.

And even though Ndreca has now pleaded guilty, he has still refused to accept the full extent of his offences, meaning there will have to be further public money spent on a one to two day ‘trial of issue’ in May before he can be sentenced. 

Speaking at Gloucester Crown Court last week, Judge Ian Lawrie KC said: ‘There has been an extraordinary amount of public expenditure because of a defendant who cannot confront his situation.’

He said he was sure that Ndreca’s defence team had given him ‘robust advice’ about his case but he had chosen to ignore it.

Taxpayers spent an 'extraordinary' £10,000 on Albanian interpreters for Martin Ndreca, 24, an illegal immigrant cocaine dealer who long-denied his crimes

Taxpayers spent an ‘extraordinary’ £10,000 on Albanian interpreters for Martin Ndreca, 24, an illegal immigrant cocaine dealer who long-denied his crimes

The amount of British taxpayer money being used to provide Albanian translators for suspected criminals has more than doubled in the last five years, figures show

The amount of British taxpayer money being used to provide Albanian translators for suspected criminals has more than doubled in the last five years, figures show

Ndreca, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty on Friday to being concerned in the supply of cocaine between 18th July 2022 and 11th July 2023. He also admitted possession of cocaine with intent to supply between Nov 28-30 2022 and again on 10th July 2023.

Prosecutor Daniel White said Ndreca, who had hitherto denied the offences, now ‘accepts the vast majority of the Crown’s case.’

But, he said, Ndreca has submitted a basis of plea challenging the prosecution’s case about the level of his involvement in the drug gang he was working for.

Mr White said the Crown cannot accept Ndreca’s claim that he was just a ‘runner or driver playing a lesser role’ and there will have to be a Newton Hearing – a trial at which a judge hears evidence to decide the level of involvement.

‘Because of the way Mr Ndreca has acted in this case a huge amount of money has had to be spent,’ the barrister said. ‘Over £10,000 fees for Albanian interpreters who looked at thousands of lines of text messages.

‘Now, we shall have to instruct and call a cellphone site expert to give evidence at the trial of issue about the location of the drugs phone to see where it was in the week before his arrest.’

Judge Lawrie said that ordinarily when a defendant pleads guilty to his offences he is given full credit in terms of a reduced sentence. But not so if there had to be a trial of issue which did not succeed – and most such hearings did not.

Manveer Chema, defending, told the judge ‘In terms of the cost of this case I would not want counsel for the defence or the defence solicitors to be criticised.’

A group of people thought to be migrants arrive in Dungeness, Kent, after being rescued in the Channel by the RNLI

A group of people thought to be migrants arrive in Dungeness, Kent, after being rescued in the Channel by the RNLI

Migrants arrive on a beach in Dungeness, Kent

Migrants arrive on a beach in Dungeness, Kent

Judge Lawrie agreed: ‘They can only do what they are told. No doubt he has been given robust advice which he has chosen to ignore.’

Mr Chema said the defence team had also had to investigate whether Ndreca, as an illegal immigrant, had a legal defence of ‘modern slavery.’

But the judge retorted: ‘Never in a month of Sundays would modern slavery have worked as a defence in this case.’

Mr Chema said the basis of Ndreca’s guilty pleas is that he initially played a ‘lesser role’ in the drug supply but later moved up to a ‘significant role.’ But he would not accept the Crown’s case that he was actually in the ‘significant role’ category.

The judge set the dates of May 13 or 14 for the trial of issue and remanded Ndreca in custody.

The amount of British taxpayer money being used to provide Albanian translators for suspected criminals has more than doubled in the last five years, figures show.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) revealed that a record £1.2 million was spent in 2022, providing bilingual staff to communicate legal proceedings to Albanians accused of committing crimes in the UK.

This is a rise of 35 per cent in from the year before and double the £507,000 figure recorded six years ago.

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