Cannabis gardener jailed - Watford


A Vietnamese man caught tending 300 cannabis plants at a house in Watford told the police he wanted to be deported.

Thuong Hoang, 37, entered the UK illegally and was met by a man at a railway station in London, who took him to a house in Vicarage Road.

Hoang, who left a wife and two children behind in Vietnam, was arrested on 09 November last year when police raided the house, St Albans Crown Court was told today, Thursday, 03 January 2013.

He pleaded guilty, via video link, to being involved in the production of cannabis. He had no convictions in the UK and has now been served with a deportation order.

David Chrimes for Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said: "It was a relatively sophisticated cannabis factory operation. The house was a 3 bedroom semi-detached.  There were cannabis plants in two of the bedrooms and in the loft. Plastic sheeting, high-energy lighting and ventilation equipment had been installed."

The defendant, who was aided in court by a Vietnamese interpreter, was responsible for the day-to-day growing of the plants and there was no evidence he was higher up in the chain, said the prosecutor.

When questioned by officers, he claimed he did not know the plants were cannabis. He said he had entered the UK illegally and had been met by another Vietnamese man at a railway station in London and taken to Watford, where he was to live and look after the plants.

Gavin Harris, defending, said: "The man visited the house once a week. Mr Hoang was not paid and was simply provided with food. He was simply a grower of plants.

"He left his wife and two children in Vietnam due to economic hardship. He wants to be deported - that was one of the first things he told the police.

"He was a low-level gardener who was very close to the bottom of the criminal enterprise."

Judge Stephen Warner jailed him for 12 months saying he would be deported half way through the sentence. The judge said: "This was a significant number of plants spread out over three rooms. It was production on a significant scale with premises adapted to enable the production to take place."

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