A man who knocked down and seriously injured a motorcyclist was being pressurised into acting as a driver for a criminal gang, a court has heard. Muhamer Halili was at the wheel of a Mercedes with one of the "bosses" of the gang in the back when he drove into the bike on a busy road, sending the rider flying off his machine and across the road. The defendant and his passenger then drove off.

Six months after the crash Halili was found in a cannabis farm being run by the same gang after calling 999 and asking for help. He was found not guilty of producing cannabis at a trial after telling the jury he was a victim of modern slavery and had no choice but to work at the drugs operation because he was being exploited.

Swansea Crown Court heard that on December 9 last year Halili was driving on Cardiff Road in Barry in a Mercedes car that was insured and registered in his name. When the defendant pulled onto the road from a car park near the Robert Price builders' merchants he drove straight into a passing motorcycle, throwing the rider into the air and across the road. After briefly stopping Halili drove off at speed.

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The biker was taken to University Hospital of Wales suffering with a fractured leg and underwent surgery to fit metal pins in the broken bone. In a victim impact statement which was read to court the rider said the collision had left him in pain, struggling to sleep, and with scarring on his lower leg. He said he had been unable to return to his job as a kitchen porter, no longer feels able to ride his bike - an activity he had always enjoyed - and feels his life is "on pause".

The 36-year-old defendant was arrested on unrelated matters on January 21 and interviewed about the collision but answered "no comment" to all questions asked and was released under investigation. Then on the evening of June 6 Halili came to the attention of police again when he called 999 asking for help saying there were people in the house who were trying to hurt him. Officers went to a house on Pentyla-Baglan Road in Port Talbot and found the defendant inside. They also found a major cannabis farm with five rooms given over to the cultivation of the drug and a total of 157 plants. Halili was found not guilty of producing cannabis at trial after telling the jury he was a victim of modern slavery and had been put to work at the plantation by an organised criminal gang. For the latest court reports, sign up to our crime newsletter here.

He told jurors he had been in the UK since 2012 and ran a tiling business but subsequently returned to Albania where he borrowed the equivalent of £30,000 to pay for medical care for his dad. He said those from whom he borrowed the cash then put pressure on him to repay the debt. The defendant said on his return to the UK he was placed in immigration detention with a GPS tag but he absconded and "the boys removed the tag and put me to work". Halili told the court that he had been coerced into acting as a driver for the gang, and when he collided with the biker in Barry one of the "bosses" - an "international drug dealer" - had been a passenger in the Mercedes with him. He said he had subsequently been put to work setting up the Port Talbot cannabis operation and had no choice due to being exploited.

Muhamer Halili, of no fixed abode, had previously pleaded guilty to causing serious injury by driving while disqualified, driving while disqualified - an incident a week before the collision when he had been caught on camera driving his Mercedes in Port Talbot - failing to surrender to custody, and driving without insurance when he appeared in the dock for sentencing. He has six previous convictions for 15 offences including dangerous driving, driving with excess alcohol, drug-driving, driving while disqualified, and driving otherwise than in accordance with a licence.

James Hartson, for Hailil, said the defendant had been in custody since June 5 and had served the equivalent of an eight month sentence. He said they were his instructions that the defendant believed his period of disqualification had expired at the time of the Barry collision and he was driving lawfully.

Recorder Simon Mills said Halili had driven into collision with a motorcyclist and after briefly stopping had simply driven away from the scene in a "callous manner". He said he did not accept the defendant's assertion that believed his ban had expired. The judge said in passing sentence he would be faithful to the verdict of the jurors in the cannabis case who had felt that it was at least possible that the defendant was a victim of modern slavery. With a one-quarter discount for his guilty pleas Halili was sentenced to nine months in prison comprising eight months for causing serious injury and to one month for failing to surrender to bail to run consecutively making an overall sentence of nine months. Defendants ordinarily serve up to half their sentences in custody before being released on licence to serve the remainder the community but the length of time Halili has served on remand means he is likely to be released shortly.

South Wales Police is unable to provide a custody photograph of the defendant

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