Teenager's search for long-lost brother ends in jail

A TEENAGER who was smuggled from Vietnam to Britain in a desperate search for his brother ended up working on a secret cannabis farm in Doncaster.

The 18-year-old orphan finally came to the notice of the law when he was found hiding under the insulation in the loft of a terraced house in Balby at the end of a police search.

Trinh Hoi was sentenced to 18 months in a young offenders' institution when he appeared before Doncaster Crown Court and pleaded guilty to a charge of illegally cultivating cannabis plants.

Beverley Tait, prosecuting, said police were sent to check out a house in Belmont Avenue last November and entered the property when there was no answer.

During their search, they discovered 69 plants in the cellar, along with more than 200 cuttings, another 279 dying cuttings, 66 plants in the living room, and another 145 plants in two bedrooms.

There was a bank of electrical equipment, ventilation and piping to help with the growth of the plants.

If they had been successfully cropped, they would have produced 180,000 worth of cannabis, said Miss Tait.

The officers searched the loft of the house next door, where Trinh was hiding under the insulation material.

Through an interpreter, he told police he had come to the UK in the back of a lorry and his aunt had paid $8,000 for him to travel from Vietnam via Russia.

After he arrived as an illegal immigrant, he was taken to Balby and shown how to look after the plants but received no payment apart from food and board.

Defence solicitor Nigel Lumley said Trinh wanted to find his older brother and a new life in this country.

The people who brought him here had told him he would have a job in a warehouse.

Mr Lumley said: "That led on to him being asked to take charge of this property for free board and lodging.

"Eventually he hoped to find his brother because he had a fixation about that."

In a letter to the court, Trinh said he now wanted to get back to Vietnam to look after his aunt and he wanted to repay the money she had borrowed for his passage.

The judge said he sympathised with Trinh's plight and he had made an allowance for his age and good character by passing a short sentence.

He also ordered that the defendant should be deported when he has served his term of detention.

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