An illegal immigrant from Vietnam who was trafficked into the UK was discovered running a cannabis factory in Daventry.
Dung Pham, 46, was found hiding inside the property in Kingsley Avenue, Daventry, during a police raid in July.
Laura O’Malley, prosecuting at Northampton Crown Court, said: “At 1.40pm, eight police officers together with an electrician attended 27 Kingsley Avenue in order to execute a Misuse of Drugs Act warrant. The property was targeted as a result of information received that there was said to be suspicious activity as the address and there may be a cannabis factory.
“And when police community support officers walked past, they could smell cannabis in the vicinity and the police helicopter had got a strong heat source from that particular location, a mid-terraced property.”
Officers found Pham, and a 15-year-old youth, both from Vietnam, inside the property which had been converted into a cannabis factory, with almost all the rooms partitioned off with plastic sheeting, specialist lighting along with 345 plants at varying stages of growth. The court heard the teenager was granted bail but has since disappeared.
Pham, off no fixed address, who gave police a false name and date of birth, pleaded guilty to producing cannabis. He was jailed for 21 months.
Judge Richard Bray, who also recommended deportation, said: “I give you credit for pleading guilty although you were caught red handed at the premises.
“The fact is this was a substantial cannabis factory. A large number of plants were found in this commercial enterprise.
“You were not just an unfortunate gardener as it is often described. You were in control of the day-to-day running of this factory which needed some knowledge and skill. You had a significant role to play. The matter is aggravated by the fact you were an illegal immigrant at the time.
“And you told the police a pack of lies about your age and identity. These operations are well known in the Vietnamese community. Cannabis factories of this kind are a blight upon society.
“There must be a custodial sentence. I make a recommendation for your deportation. I appreciate that is exactly what you want to be done but I feel it necessary to remind the Home Office of their duties.
Kevin Lynch, mitigating, said Pham had been trafficked into the UK via Russia and was working at the factory in order to pay of the debt he still owes for being brought here.