Jailed: The Vietnamese cannabis farmer whose Hartlepool crop was worth Â£200,000
A cannabis farmer whose crops stood to make more than Â£200,000 has been jailed for 21 months.
Son Nguyen was arrested after police raided a house he was occupying in Burbank Street in Hartlepool.
“There was a professionally installed growing operation in the house,” said Harry Hadfield, prosecuting at Teesside Crown Court.
“More than 370 plants were growing in six rooms, and there was a lighting and irrigation system.
“The electricity supply to the property had been bypassed.”
Vietnamese national Nguyen, 41, of no fixed abode, denied being concerned in the supply of cannabis on September 7, last year, but was convicted after a trial.
Nguyen claimed to have met a man in Birmingham, West Midlands, who offered him the use of the house in Hartlepool in exchange for looking after the plants.
He told police he did not know what he was doing was illegal.
Ben Pegman, mitigating, said; “Mr Nguyen is a builder by trade, and came to this country hoping to start a building business.
“It cost him £31,000 to get here, and I ask the court to accept his adventure over here at least began with legitimate intentions.
“Mr Nguyen will likely be deported at the end of the inevitable custodial sentence.
“He has a wife and children in Vietnam, and having borrowed the £31,000 he will have to repay that when he eventually returns home.”
Judge Tony Briggs jailed Nguyen for 21 months.
The judge told him: “This was a professional growing operation of more than 300 plants which could have yielded in excess of £200,000.
“I accept you do not speak English and have hearing difficulties, so you would have needed others to help you gain use of the house, and it would not have been easy for you to move around in this country.
“You were not the mastermind of the operation, but there is no doubt your building skills would have been useful to those that were.”
The cannabis plants and growing equipment will be destroyed.