An illegal immigrant from Vietnam has been jailed for his role in growing a cannabis farm worth more than £100,000 at a Hartlepool house.
Minh Nguyen, 26, was arrested after 196 plants were uncovered at an address in Tankerville Street in the town two months ago.
Nguyen was later charged with cannabis production, which he admitted.
Prosecutor Emma Atkinson yesterday told a hearing at Teesside Crown Court: “A total of 196 plants were found over four growing rooms.
“They had extraction fans, reflective sheeting and lighting. The 196 plants would have produced an estimated £107,800.
“In interview, the defendant said he had flown to this country via the Czech Republic.”
She added: “He said he had worked in London and had come up three months ago and that he was told to stay inside the property and water the plants.”
Matthew Crowe, mitigating, told the court: “Mr Nguyen came into the country illegally in 2009 looking for healthcare.
“He began working illegally to support his wife, who sadly has cancer, while he has problems with a weak heart.”
Mr Crowe added that Nguyen had come to Hartlepool to work but ended up growing the cannabis plants.
“This was through his own naivety,” said Mr Crowe.
“It was when he arrived at the house that he realised that he had to stay for the money for his health and his wife’s.
“He believed he’d be paid when the plants were harvested, but the money never materialised.”
Nguyen, who appeared in court via videolink from HMP Holme House, wept as Recorder Jonathan Aitken jailed him for eight months.
“You were in the country illegally at the time of this offence,” said Recorder Aitken.
“However, you have pleaded guilty which I take into account, meaning you will spend eight months in prison.”
Recorder Aitken added that Nguyen could be released early from his jail term for good behaviour.