Cannabis 'gardener' jailed for 16 months - Bedford

04/01/2013

A young Vietnamese man who was tending cannabis plants growing inside a four bedroom house in Bedford, felt so intimidated by local youths who threatened to steal some of the crop that he asked a neighbour to call police.

Hien Hoang, 19, had hoped his arrest would lead to him being deported to Germany, where he had travelled from, but instead it led to a 16 month jail sentence.

His fate at the end of the sentence will be decided by the Home Office.

Hoang appeared at Luton Crown Court on Friday, 04 January 2013, and pleaded guilty to producing the Class B drug at a house in Church Lane, Bedford.

Daniel Siong for Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said police were called to the house on 30 November by a neighbour and found four bedrooms had been turned over to cannabis production. There were more than 400 plants growing.

Hoang said that he had only been in the UK for a month and had been installed in the house rent free as a 'gardener' in return for free food.

But he had felt intimidated by local youths who had come to the house and said they would steal the plants and took away his mobile SIM card.

Andrew Morton, defending said: "He was certainly intimidated by some local youths even though he did not understand their language. He could simply have disappeared, but he also felt intimidated by the man who employed him.

"The crop still had about two months before it would have been ready to harvest which is probably what discouraged the youths from stealing them straight away."

Judge Stuart Bridge said: "You alerted the authorities because you felt intimidated. You became involved through naivety and exploitation, but an immediate custodial sentence is inevitable."

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