Thursday, July 06, 2006

An illegal Vietnamese immigrant has been jailed for growing cannabis plants in Britain

Herts and Essex Newspapers:

AN illegal immigrant has been sent to prison for growing 500 cannabis plants at a four-bedroom house in Bishop's Stortford.

Vietnamese Van Ngo, 20, was found at the property in Cavell Drive following a police raid on May 31 this year where officers discovered cannabis, in various stages of development, growing in three of the bedrooms and in the lounge.

When interviewed, Ngo, who doesn't speak any English, said she was taken to the property, where she was given lodgings, to tend to the plants. She was paid £200 a week to water them and give them light.

St Albans Crown Court heard Ngo was smuggled into the country on the back of a lorry last year after leaving Vietnam because her family had gone bankrupt and were threatened with violence.

It heard she had already received an eight month sentence for perverting the course of justice since her arrival.

Ngo, who pleaded guilty to cultivating cannabis, was given eight months in prison. The Home Office is already making plans for her deportation.

Prosecuting on Monday, Maurice Aston said it was the day she was released from serving this sentence that she was taken to the "drug factory" in Bishop's Stortford.

Defending, Daniel Jones said Ngo was a vulnerable woman who didn't know what she was getting herself into. "She came here lacking language skills and had no prospects. She was reliant on people in the community giving her work. She took the work that was offered without understanding what was involved."

Recorder John Plumstead accepted Ngo was a "hired hand" and gave her credit for pleading guilty.

He said to her, via a translator: "It is unfortunate the first contact you had in this country was with criminals. You came here illegally and have not had a useful part to play in our society.

"You have not tried your best to fit in or obey the laws of this country or do well for yourself. The large scale cultivation of cannabis is serious and the only option is a custodial sentence."

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