Illegal Vietnamese immigrant jailed for tending £165,000 Newton Abbot cannabis factory
AN illegal Vietnamese immigrant has been jailed after he was caught tending a £165,000 cannabis factory in Newton Abbot.
Chinh Nguyen was thrown out of Britain ten years ago after being convicted of doing exactly the same thing in Wales but was smuggled back into the country across the English Channel last year.
The Home Office released him from a detention centre and gave him temporary permission to remain but he was recruited by a cannabis grower and brought to Devon to look after 200 plants.
Police raided the building in Abbotsbury Road, Newton Abbot, last month and found a sophisticated high-tech hydroponic operation with healthy plants which were just days away from being harvested.
There were 100 plants in two growing areas which had round the clock lighting which was costing nothing to run because the meter had been by-passed.
Nguyen told police he had been offered food and a roof over his head when he was living rough on the streets of Birmingham in June this year.
He said he watered the plants once or twice a week and followed orders from the main organiser, who was not caught.
He is expected to be deported to Vietnam for the second time when he completes the one year jail sentence which he received at Exeter Crown Court.
He previously served two years 8 months after being jailed at Swansea Crown Court in 2010 and was deported in 2012 on his release.
He returned to Britain illegally on July 12, 2021.
Nguyen, aged 40, of Abbotsbury Road, Newton Abbot, admitted the cultivation of cannabis and was jailed for 12 months by Judge Peter Johnson at Exeter Crown Court.
He told him: ‘You came down here to act as a gardener for a professional enterprise which was producing cannabis on a commercial scale.
‘The sale of the plants would have realised substantial sums of money.
‘This was a relatively sophisticated operation with specialist equipment and which involved the by-passing of the electricity supply.
‘I suspect your experience from Wales all those years ago made you a good gardener.’
Miss Caroline Bolt, prosecuting, said the property was raided in early July and 200 plants seized which would have produced between 5.9 and 21.4 kilos worth up to £165,000 if sold in street deals.
Nguyen told police he had been brought to Devon by the offer of free food and accommodation and had watered the plants once or twice a week and never left the house.
Mr Paul Dentith, defending, said Nguyen had been released by the Home Office with nowhere to live and was unable to work or claim benefits because of his immigration status.
He had been exploited because he was desperate to get off the streets and needed a roof over his head.
He now plans to return to his family in Vietnam when he is released.