Jail time reduced

A “PRINCIPAL cultivator” of a substantial cannabis crop grown by a Vietnamese drug trafficking network at a disused shop at Tempy has had a term of imprisonment reduced on appeal.

Ngoc Nguyen, who was also described as a “crop sitter” for the plants, was sentenced in the County Court in March to 6 ½ in jail with a minimum four and a half years to serve before being eligible for parole.

The court was told Nguyen was arrested following a drug taskforce investigation that took place between October 2015 and May 2016, that targeted the Vietnamese drug trafficking network.

When police raided the Tempy address they located five rooms within the shop area that contained a substantial quantity of cannabis plants.

The plants were fed by water pipes leading to adjacent rooms in which wheelie bins were used to store liquid to feed the plants.

There was also a large amount of electric cables connecting high-powered lighting systems throughout the area, with a complicated set of electric wires and other appliances.

Heavy duty plastic sheeting had been placed on the walls of the rooms to prevent light escaping, and there were large carbon filters suspended from the ceiling to absorb the odour that came from the cannabis plants.

Other rooms in the shop consisted of work areas that contained a number of power boards, electrical transformers and assorted plant foods for cannabis production.

Almost 170 plants of fresh growing cannabis were located at the premises weighing more than 100 kilograms.

The court heard 63-year-old Nguyen moved to Ouyen from St Albans in late 2015 for the purpose of being a cultivator, handyman and renovator at the Tempy premises.

He was involved in the cultivation and harvesting of the cannabis that was ultimately dried so that another man could then traffick the cannabis in one pound amounts, which were priced at $1750 per pound.

In this week reducing Nguyen’s sentence to five years’ jail with a non-parole period of 3 ½, 

the Supreme Court of Appeal was told that while he was likely to receive a “substantial” payment for his role in the enterprise, there was no evidence that he was involved in establishing the sophisticated set up.

The Court of Appeal judges agreed that in light of the actual role and position of Nguyen in the cultivation operation, and in view of his mitigating circumstances, the head sentence and the non-parole period were wholly outside the range of sentencing options available.

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