Newly-arrived Vietnamese man found growing £250k of cannabis
A VIETNAMESE man who came to England on the back of a lorry to search for his daughter has been caught growing more than £250,000 of cannabis.
Dat Trong Nguyen, 38, told police he was met by a Chinese man who then forced him to act as a gardener for the 797 plants growing at a house in Rochester Road, St Anne's.
He had only been in the country 10 days when police raided the property and found him hiding in a kitchen cupboard.
Nguyen pleaded guilty to production of a class B drug and was jailed for a period of two years and six months.
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Nguyen will also be deported at the earliest opportunity.
Julian Howells, prosecuting, said police executed a search warrant at the property on March 26 this year.
"Officers forced entry and the defendant was found hiding in a cupboard in the kitchen," Mr Howells said.
"The domestic residence had been converted into five growing rooms with a sophisticated set-up and the electricity had been bypassed.
"In the five growing rooms there was a total of 797 plants of which 636 were in what officers describe as a live state.
"A scientific expert calculated there would be a potential yield of 26.5 kilos. That weight based on street deals would have a street value of £266,000."
Mr Howells said the rest of the property was in a habitable state with a kitchen with a fridge and a lounge with a television and sofa.
He continued: "The defendant was interviewed at Broadbury Road police station and said he had been in the country for 10 days and had come in on the back of a lorry.
"He said he had arrived with another person but was then picked up by a Chinese man and brought to Bristol. He said he was looking for his daughter and was told if he assisted them they would help him.
"Initially he says he didn't know the plants were illegal but that when he realised they were cannabis he was threatened to a degree and was obliged to stay.
"The instructions were written down for him and he said he had been watering the plants."
Mr Howells said Nguyen had no previous convictions in the UK.
Matthew Comer, defending, said: "There is a genuine sense that he was exploited.
"He speaks no English whatsoever and when he found out the plants were cannabis he wanted to leave but was not allowed.
"He had a lesser role in the production and I would ask for you to give him full credit for his guilty plea."
Jailing him Judge Simon Darwall-Smith told Nguyen: "I take into account your plea of guilty but this was a large-scale operation with five rooms and some 700 plants and a yield in excess of quarter of a million pounds.
"I do however except you were coerced to work as the gardener."