Man, 20, caught in Norwich cannabis factory raid should be deported, rules judge
09:54 20 August 2014
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An illegal immigrant caught looking after a Norwich cannabis factory should be deported, a judge has ruled.
More than 200 cannabis plants were found when police raided a house in Osborne Road last month, Norwich Crown Court heard yesterday.
A 20-year-old Vietnamese man had been tending to the crop after falling “prey” to people involved in the black market, the prosecution said.
Martin Ivory, prosecuting, said Tien Nguyen fled through a window when officers arrived, but was found hiding under a motor vehicle by a nearby school and was arrested.
He has been sentenced to two years in a young offenders institute, and to be treated as a “high priority candidate” for deportation on his release due to the high possibility of him absconding.
Nguyen had decided to leave Vietnam at the age of 13 in search of a better life, arriving in the UK on the bottom of a lorry after a year-long land journey through Russia and Europe, the court heard.
Mr Ivory said Nguyen had been living in London before moving to Norwich to look after a cannabis factory for a Vietnamese couple, watering and cutting the plants.
Nguyen refused to name the people higher up in the chain, but admitted producing cannabis.
Jonathan Goodman, mitigating, said Nguyen had arrived in the UK in search of a better life but within months of arriving he was recruited into a criminal enterprise.
Nguyen was previously convicted for his role as gardener at two cannabis factories in the Greater Manchester area in 2009.
“You might have thought he would be able to break free, learn English and do something to improve his lot, but all that’s happened is he’s back under the control of those who were controlling him to begin with,” said Mr Goodman. “In the black economy, with no right to remain, he is prey to criminals who look for the likes of Mr Nguyen and look to use them.”
He added it was a “sad tale”, and that as the person in the “front line” of the operation he was more likely to be arrested.
The electrics in the house were found to have been unsafely adapted, the court heard.
Nguyen, of no fixed abode, had been promised £2,000 for a successful cannabis crop or £1,000 for an unsuccessful one, the prosecution had claimed.
Judge Anthony Bate, sentencing, said Nguyen became involved with others “older and more sophisticated” and was first recruited into a criminal operation at the age of 15.
“You were not deported for reasons that are unclear to me,” he said. “You were once again recruited to come and garden a cannabis factory in the city.
“You knew full well what you were doing and were in no sense naive on this occasion.
“It’s a sad and common fact of these cases that people who are caught are regarded by those further up the chain as expendable.”