Judge sends Vietnamese drug ‘gardener’ to prison

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A Vietnamese man has been jailed after being caught tending to a huge cannabis crop during a police raid on a house in Bozeat.

But the judge who locked him up said he was surprised Northants Police have not investigated who the man’s bosses were, or even found out who owns the house.

Tuan Anh Tran, 28, was arrested when police saw him attempting to flee through the skylight of a home in London Road during a raid on March 5.

Investigators uncovered more than 130 cannabis plants with a value of about £40,000.

Tran appeared at Northampton Crown Court last Wednesday where he was jailed for a year and warned that he could be deported back to Vietnam.

However, Judge Richard Bray also criticised police investigators during the hearing – saying that it was clear Tran was effectively only a gardener for the cannabis plants and expressed surprise that the police had not investigated who the owners of the Bozeat house were.

He said: “This is a three-bedroom house in Bozeat, which is a small, quiet village.

“Someone should be able to find out who owns it and I can’t believe inquiries have not been made.”

The court heard how Tran was spotted climbing through a skylight during the raid but was talked back inside the property.

When arrested, he initially gave false details but eventually police were able to obtain his true identity.

The court heard that he had entered the UK in 2011, initially living in London, but was later ‘employed’ to tend to the drug crop in Bozeat.

Defence barrister Caroline Bray said: “He is a young man born in Vietnam who was sold a better life. It is a sad story.

“He had debts from entering the country and despite working honestly in London these were never paid off.

“He was not paid for looking after the cannabis farm in Bozeat, he only had his food and lodgings taken care of. His was very much a lesser role in the operation.

“My client wanted a better life for himself, but he did not get it.”

Judge Bray said he accepted Tran was playing only a minor role in the operation, but added that it was a significant cannabis farm with a potential yield of £40,000 and that a crop could be obtained from the plants up to three times a year.

He added: “I have no power to deport you myself, but I am making a recommendation that you are deported in addition to your prison sentence.”