THE “gardener” of a massive cannabis factory found inside a Victorian house in South Cumbria has been handed a prison sentence.
Carlisle Crown Court heard how police swooped on the Church Hill property at Arnside, on February 6, after neighbours raise concerns about its use.
Officers found a house “absolutely stuffed” with almost 400 cannabis plants contained within a “sophisticated” growing operation complete with specialist hydroponic equipment. The plants were located in a number of different rooms, in various stages of growth and could have had an illegal drugs yield of almost 20kg – potentially worth just under £100,000.
Vietnamese national Duong Pham, 48, was found in the cellar of the property, attempting to hide inside a wheelie bin. It emerged Pham had been arrested – and then bailed – more than a year earlier having been found in charge of a similarly sized operation inside a London lock-up.
He admitted two cannabis production charges, and was sentenced today (TUES).
Judge Peter Davies concluded that Pham – an illegal UK entrant – had played a “lesser role” in the crime as a gardener because he was being “used by others”.
Judge Davies handed down a 16-month prison term but noted Pham had already served the equivalent of a 14-month sentence on remand.
The judge directed that Pham, of no fixed address, should not be released from custody until the Home Office was able to have him deported.