Former soldier 'coerced' into running cannabis farm in Morden
A former Vietnamese soldier has claimed he racked up debts betting on football before moving to Britain where he looked after a cannabis farm.
Ty Dao, 46, admitted tending 240 mature plants in July and was sentenced at Kingston Crown Court on Friday morning.
The court heard the man, who left a wife and a 19-year-old son in Vietnam to arrive in Britain in the back of a lorry, had been coerced into looking after the crop, at 80 The Green, in Morden.
Defending, Shona Grundy said Dao wished to apologise to the court, and that his story was “a tale too-often heard in respect of these situations.”
She said: “In Vietnam he got into financial difficulties through football betting and was encouraged to come to England on the premise that he would be able to earn £1,000 to £2,000 a month, that work was easy, and that his employers would pay his tax.
“He sold his shop and his possessions in Vietnam to raise the money to pay for his transportation.
“When finally he arrived, having spent a substantial amount of time travelling across land, he was effectively dumped in the UK, in England, and told by the figures who brought him in that their responsibility towards him had ended.”
Dao, who has been staying in the hospital ward at Wandsworth prison due to his diabetes, wishes to return to Vietnam, Miss Grundy said.
Prosecuting, David Baird said Dao told police he was being held against his will at the farm, and had been threatened with violence.
He had been approached by unnamed Vietnamese people and offered a place to sleep, having been in the country for three months, Mr Baird said.
He had been sleeping alongside the cannabis plants.
Dao was handed a 12-month prison sentence for producing cannabis, plus a four-month stretch for stealing electricity, which will run concurrently.
He will also pay a £100 surcharge.
Judge Nicholas Jones told him: "I understand you want to be deported back to Vietnam. That may well come about in any event as a result of the sentence I have passed.
"I bear in mind all that has been said on your behalf, including the situation you had been in, in Vietnam."
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