Jail for Sutterton cannabis gardeners

Police officers by chance discovered cannabis plants capable of producing hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of the illicit drug growing in an empty former hotel, Lincoln Crown Court was told today (Monday).

Patrolling officers decided to enter the Waggoners Rest on Station Street, Sutterton, after spotting a security light was on.

Edna Leonard, prosecuting, said “They knew the hotel had been unoccupied for several months. When they approached the building they could smell cannabis and noticed the windows all had their curtains closed.”

The officers went inside and discovered the building crammed with cannabis plants.

Hundreds of plants were found on the ground floor with all nine rooms upstairs also converted into growing areas.

Two Vietnamese men arrested inside tending to plants had apparently been sleeping on mattresses on the floor surrounded by the plants.

Miss Leonard said that a total of 1,425 mature cannabis plants were recovered from the building which had been leased out by the owner to a client who claimed he was going to convert the premises into a restaurant. The prosecuter added it had not been possible to establish the exact worth of the cannabis but she said “The yield from these plants was worth hundreds of thousands of pounds.

”The men found on the premises were gardeners. Clearly there were others involved and inquiries are still ongoing in relation to this.

Hung Quoc Tran, 22, and An Van Nguyen, 30, who were both living at the hotel, each admitted unlawful production of cannabis on 16 November. They were each jailed for two years.

Judge Michael Heath told them “This was a professional, well-organised, large scale cannabis growing operation.”

Gordon Holt, defending, said both men were recruited as gardeners after being approached and offered work while staying in London.

“Both arrived as illegal immigrants. They arrived from Vietnam via a circuitous route having incurred quite significant debts at home to do so.

“They were in London and were approached to some work in the Boston area. Both needed work and money and they were transported to Boston in the same car.”

Mr Holt said Tran was told he would be killed if he left the building.