A Vietnamese national has been ordered to serve seven months’ jail for his role in a growing cannabis at a Unanderra house.
The-Anh Nguyen, in Australia on a student visa, acted as a ‘‘crop sitter’’ in the Coral Crescent home, agreeing to turn a blind eye to the more than 130 cannabis plants being grown in the house in order to receive free rent.
Wollongong District Court judge Paul Conlon accepted submissions made on Nguyen’s behalf that he was not a ‘‘principle’’ in the drug operation, instead that he was a ‘‘naive’ young man who had been a low-level facilitator and had made only a modest profit out of the crime.
The court heard Nguyen became involved in the operation after sitting next to a man he knew as ‘‘Tony’’ on a flight from Vietnam.
Nguyen, who knew ‘‘Tony’’ prior to the flight through his work in a fruit market at Parramatta, told the man about his father’s medical problems and the financial strain it was putting on his family.
Tony asked Nguyen if he wanted to live in a house at Unanderra rent-free, in exchange for setting up an electricity account at the home in his own name, and keeping the lawns mowed and the place tidy.
The court heard a few months after he moved in Tony and another man set up the cannabis crop inside the two-storey home, decking it out with special lighting and a watering system.
Judge Conlon accepted that Nguyen did not do any of the work to maintain the plants, describing his role as that of a ‘‘crop sitter’’.
Police raided the house on April 9 this year, arresting Nguyen at the scene.
The estimated street value of the plants was between $400,000 and $680,000.
Judge Conlon sentenced Nguyen to an overall term of 15 months’ jail, with a non-parole period of seven months.
With time already served, he will be eligible for release on November 8, in less than a month’s time.