Student faces likely deportation over crop

A YOUNG Vietnamese engineering student is likely to be deported over a large hydroponic cannabis crop he helped grow in a regional Victorian shed, a judge says.

Huy Nguyen was this week sentenced to 15 months in prison, already served, after he pleaded guilty to cultivating a crop of 271 cannabis plants at a property at Nyah, on the Murray River, near Swan Hill. 

Nguyen, 20, was taken into custody 15 months ago.

But County Court Judge Michael Bourke says Nguyen would now be deported unless he could obtain a new visa.

“That seems to me highly unlikely,” the judge told the court, sitting at Mildura. 

Nguyen came to Australia on a student visa in 2013 to study engineering, but lost his way after gambling troubles, the judge said.

“You were introduced to gambling, lost heavily and were recruited for cannabis cultivation in that parlous financial situation,’ Judge Bourke said. 

It was a crop “of some size”, weighing about 47kg, and growing it was a serious crime, the court was told.

“(Cannabis cultivation) is seen as a prevalent crime, one offering its entrepreneurs considerable financial gain,” Judge Bourke said.

However, Nguyen’s role in growing it was minor, Judge Bourke noted, pointing to the involvement of other people.

“The evidence of your connection to the crop is somewhat sparse,” he said.

Nguyen went to Bunnings Swan Hill twice to buy items for tending the hydroponic crop, detectives said.

He also spent about two weeks late in 2016 staying at a house on the property where the crop was growing.

Police discovered the crop after raiding the property in November 2016, and Nguyen was subsequently arrested.

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