A VIETNAMESE man found running a £100,000 cannabis factory in Bradford has been jailed for 27 months.

Bradford Crown Court heard claims that 44-year-old Le Nguyen had been trafficked to the UK and was used as a gardener to grow cannabis plants in a converted house on Heaton Road.

Prosecutor Nick Adlington said he was discovered by police hiding behind plastic sheeting in the basement when they raided the property on August 29 last year.

Officers found four floors had been used to grow cannabis with three rooms containing 131 plants and a fourth containing a crop of recently harvested cannabis buds in four large bags weighing several kilos.

The street value of the drugs seized was estimated to be over £100,000.

Equipment and other paraphernalia used for drug production, including electric, hydroponic, and air extraction fittings, plus soil and fertiliser, was found in the house, which also had a rudimentary kitchen “with plenty of food” as well as bedding and a large TV.

Mr Adlington said Nguyen was an “illegal entrant” with no right of abode in the UK and no address.

He said he “could not possibly have been a prisoner” in the cannabis farm as police had found a key in the front door as well a mobile phone containing messages that referred to cannabis plants as “children” and which showed that Nguyen was in regular contact with others.

He was also found to be “fairly clean with a recent haircut” and wearing shorts, a t-shirt, and flip flops.

In an interview with police Nguyen claimed not to know that cannabis was illegal and said he had been trafficked to Europe and then to the UK to pay off a £20,000 loan he had taken out in Vietnam in 2015.

Mitigating for Nguyen, Adam Keenaghan said Nguyen’s role was limited to gardening the cannabis plants and that his involvement was “through exploitation”.

He added that he “was scared” to leave the house where he had worked for three months when he was caught.

Nguyen, who appeared via video link from HMP Leeds and spoke via an interpreter, pleaded guilty to production of Class B drugs on the first day of his trial.

Sentencing Nguyen, Mr Recorder Simon Kealey KC said he had performed a limited function under direction and had been exploited by others.

He said the cannabis farm was capable of producing significant quantities of the drug for commercial use, and that Nguyen had an understanding of the scale of the operation.

He sentenced him to 27 months imprisonment and ordered the forfeiture and destruction of the drugs and the paraphernalia used to grow them.