Illegal immigrant jailed for cannabis farm described as ‘tang of slavery’

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An illegal immigrant was jailed for a year after tending a cannabis farm in a case described as having “a tang of slavery.”

Judge David Pugsley made the comment after hearing how Xuan Phan was caught in a house on Prospect Street, Alfreton on December 2.

Police found 265 cannabis plants which could have provided street drug sales of between £74,000 and £222,600, Derby Crown Court heard.

Phan, 42, had been provided with food and promised £1,200 in pay for every crop.

He arrived illegally from Vietnam nearly four years ago and had not been in trouble before. He admitted being concerned in the supply of cannabis.

The judge said: “Underneath the trappings, we would find a tang of slavery in the sense he was doing this purely as a means of staying in the country.

“I have been in the law for 40 years and don’t think I have been involved in a drug case where Mr Organiser sat in the dock.

“This is yet another case of exploitation of someone who is an illegal immigrant.”

He asked the Crown Prosecution Service to write to the Home Office to ensure Phan is deported. The judge added: “We can’t allow this affront to people who come to this country to be part of this vicious and ugly crime.”

Katrina Wilson, prosecuting, said there was “a sophisticated cannabis grow” and the electricity supply had been bypassed.

“In the attic, lights were suspended from ceilings, there were sheets over the windows, extractor fans were present and the lighting system was on a timer,” she told the court.

Plants were also found in two bedrooms and all were “in good health.” Phan was doing the job of “gardener,” she added.

Austin Newman, mitigating, said: “He came here to seek work and has been in this country for nearly four years.

“He took on a succession of casual and legitimate jobs until he got himself drawn into this.

“There is no submission on his behalf that he was coerced into this other than by dint of his economic circumstances. He was held out the promise of financial reward.”