A YOUNG Vietnamese man who is hard of hearing thought he would come to England to earn enough money for treatment, a court heard. But Phuong Ngnyen was left in a house in St Ives as the lone gardener of more than 500 cannabis plants. After pleading guilt

A YOUNG Vietnamese man who is hard of hearing thought he would come to England to earn enough money for treatment, a court heard.

But Phuong Ngnyen was left in a house in St Ives as the lone gardener of more than 500 cannabis plants.

After pleading guilty at Huntingdon Magistrates' Court to producing a class B drug, he was sentenced at Peterborough Crown Court on Thursday to 21 months in prison minus six days that he had already spent in custody.

The court head that he had very little English and an interpreter sat next to him in court relaying the proceedings to him.

Barrister David Lee, representing Ngnyen, said the house in Westbury Road had been let in April to a man called Kevin Ly. Police searching the property on July 15 found it had been converted to a cannabis factory. They found 516 plants, including cuttings, mature plants, some plants flowering and other plants in various stage of development. It was estimated that the total cannabis yield would be around 23.3 kilos.

The estimated value was £131,638 if the best price was to be obtained.

Ngnyen had admitted responsibility when he was found asleep on the premises but said that he had not bought the seeds, plants or the equipment.

"He was approached in Vietnam and told he would have a good job," said Mr Lee. "When he arrived the documents he had been given were removed from him and he was told to garden the cannabis. He received no pay but he was told after three months he would be given his fare back to Vietnam. He has a hearing deficiency and he wanted to earn the money to get that cured."

Sentencing Ngnyen, Judge Sean Enright said the electricity in the rented property had been tampered with. There were 92 flowering plants found in the lounge, 68 in the study, 82 in the downstairs lavatory, 52 in the main bedroom, 69 in the second bedroom and 52 in bedroom three.

He recommended that Ngnyen be deported after his sentence.