A Vietnamese mother who claimed she had been “trafficked” into the UK is facing deportation after she admitted helping to grow nearly 300 cannabis plants at a house in Halifax.
Ut Tran, who speaks no English, was living in the lounge of the rented house in Glen Terrace, Savile Park, and sleeping on a mattress in what a judge described as “very meagre circumstances” when police officers went to the property in April.
After forcing an entry into the house the police found three bedrooms and a cellar had been coverted into a sophisticated cannabis-growing operation with smaller plants being grown in the “nursery” in the cellar.
Prosecutor Peter Byrne said 285 plants at different stages of growth were seized and the crop could have yielded cannabis with a street value of more than £70,000.
Tran, 36, has been in custody since her arrest in April and today it was revealed that she had been in the country for about three years after gaining entry as an illegal immigrant in 2012.
It is understood that Tran applied for asylum in 2012, but then absconded and was not found again until she was arrested in Halifax earlier this year.
Judge Peter Benson said the Crown Prosecution Service had concluded that Tran had not been “trafficked”, but he was not privy to that decision-making process.
Tran today pleaded guilty to being concerned in the production of cannabis and Mr Byrne said she now faced being deported back to Vietnam at the end of the 13-month prison sentence imposed Judge Benson.
Having been remanded in custody for the last six months Tran will have served half her jail sentence within a few weeks and she will then be dealt with by the Immigration Service.
Judge Benson described it as a “sad and troubling case” and said he had no doubt that in many ways Tran had been “used” by others.
“It seems quite apparent to me that you were living there on a mattress on the living room floor, in very meagre circumstances, and your job was to tend this cannabis crop on behalf of another person or other people,” the judge told Tran via a Vietnamese interpreter.
“You can speak no English. This is a sad and troubling case and unfortunately not an unusual one.”
At an earlier court hearing it was claimed that Tran had been “trafficked” so she could work in this country to pay off a debt and her children had remained in the custody of the traffickers.