|A VIETNAMESE holidaymaker forced to run a South Yorkshire cannabis factory by drugs barons who kept him locked up day and night has been spared jail.|
War veteran Uan Pham, whose son is said to have represented Vietnam at the last Olympics, was brought to South Yorkshire by criminals who found him struggling to make ends meet while on holiday in London.
They paid the 54-year-old £100 a week to cultivate truckloads of cannabis at a house in High Hazel Crescent, Catcliffe, between Sheffield and Rotherham.
Pham, now a Norwegian national who was incarcerated during the Vietnamese war, was arrested when police swooped after monitoring the home with thermal imaging cameras. Officers discovered 39 industrial lamps used to grow cannabis with a street value of £60,000.
Nawaz Hussain, prosecuting, told Sheffield Crown Court: "Although it was a relatively small house, it was almost entirely taken over by cannabis production, aside from one small room where the defendant slept.
"There was a sophisticated system in place. There were a large number of ventilation ducts leading to the roof space which carried the smell away."
Chinese instructions on how to grow the drug were found in Pham's left sock.
Mr Hussain said: "He claimed, somewhat staggeringly, that he hadn't been aware of the cannabis production taking place."
The house was registered under a false name in London and the gang behind the operation has not been caught.
Defence barrister Ian Goldsack said: "The denials were made out of fear.
"He was a vulnerable man in a foreign land, he didn't have command of the language and he was preyed upon by those with the wherewithal and money to fund such a sophisticated operation.""
Pham, who spent three months on remand in Doncaster Prison, pleaded guilty to cultivating and possessing cannabis between September 2005 and January this year.
Judge Eric Elliott told the father-of-two he had brought shame on himself and his family since arriving in England last August.
The judge imposed a suspended jail term of 50 weeks, which Pham will serve if he commits another crime in the next two years.