A Vietnamese national accused of growing more than $340,000 worth of hydroponic cannabis inside a Port Kembla shed has been refused court bail amid fears he could flee the country if released.
Kim Tran, who is in Australia on a temporary visa, was caught at the scene of the Shellharbour Road bust on the afternoon of July 21 after police responding to reports of an unrelated break-in nearby noticed suspicious activity at the home and decided to investigate.
Court documents reveal officers found 170 cannabis plants spread across three makeshift rooms inside a shed at the rear of the property.
The set-up was aided by a sophisticated lighting and irrigation network.
Tran, who allegedly told police a number of times “sorry, sorry, one time”, was arrested on the spot.
A search of his wallet allegedly uncovered a receipt from Bunnings confirming the purchase of light bulbs, extension leads, valves and adaptors in a large order two days prior.
When questioned via an interpreter at Lake Illawarra Police Station later that night, Tran allegedly told police he’d played no part in the cultivation of the plants and “only found out what they were when police arrived”.
“The accused’s version changed numerous times and he often repeated ‘I don’t know the area that well, I don’t know English very well’, during the interview,” police said.
Tran was charged with cultivation offences.
In Wollongong Local Court on Wednesday, Tran’s lawyer sought his client’s release on bail, saying a family friend had agreed to house him and put up a $10,000 surety to secure his release on bail.
However, prosecutors opposed the application amid concerns he may try and flee to country.
Magistrate Michael Stoddart refused to release Tran on account of the seriousness of the charge, the strength of the case against him and the likelihood of a full time jail sentence if he’s convicted.
The matter will return to court in September.