£400,000 cannabis farmer caught with his trousers down after police raided Hartlepool house
A cannabis gardener was literally caught with his trousers down when police raided a £400,000 drugs farm.
Han Hoa, 33, was found trouserless in the house in Raby Road, Hartlepool, a court heard.
He was the only person inside the house which had been turned into a cannabis farm with 500 plants on multiple floors.
Hoa was found guilty of production of a class B drug following a trial at Teesside Crown Court and sentenced to 10 months in prison.
Prosecutor Jenny Haigh said Hoa was found inside a growing room when police wearing body cameras bust into the property at 3pm on Tuesday, November 17, last year.
She it was a professional operation and the plants were in “prime condition” when police discovered them.
Ms Haigh said: “The Crown say this is a professional set up. They were healthy plants that were looked after.”
The electricity had been bypassed and there was high intensity lighting and heat ducting.
The trial heard the plants could have been harvested to produce cannabis with a street value of some £400,000.
"We’re talking about a very lucrative set up here,” added Ms Haigh.
Despite his presence, Hoa denied being involved in caring for the plants and said he had been brought to Hartlepool from Birmingham around five weeks before the police raid.
Thomas Parsons-Munn, defending, said his client was not found tendering the plants.
Hoa said he only ate and slept at the address and had been left alone there by four Vietnamese men around a month earlier.
A key to the property was found in his jacket pocket and he had two mobile phones but refused to give PIN details to police so they could see what was on them.
Hoa, who had no previous convictions, also denied being familiar with cannabis.
But the prosecution said he was at least a gardener or caretaker and may even have helped to set it up as he had a background in building.
Hoa, of no fixed abode, was found guilty of the charge by a unanimous jury verdict.
Judge Howard Crowson ordered all the drugs and equipment to be destroyed.