Cannabis factory found after power supply problems

The old radar station at Fraser Range, Eastney Picture: Shaun Roster

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A CANNABIS factory was discovered after neighbours complained about problems with their electricity supply.

The gang who ran the operation in Highbury Grove, Cosham, Portsmouth, had bypassed the electricity meter to power the lamps for their 340 cannabis plants.

But the interference with the supply led to nearby residents experiencing frequent power surges.

When staff from Southern Electric went to investigate they smelt cannabis coming from the property and contacted the police.

Mai Ly, who was working as a ‘gardener’ looking after the plants, has been jailed for two years after she was arrested at the scene.

Portsmouth Crown Court heard the factory was capable of producing £230,000 worth of cannabis a year.

The three bedrooms of the house, as well as the dining room and the attic, were all used to grow the plants.

Ly claimed she had been tricked into working for the drug dealers.

Matthew Hardyman, defending, said the 40-year-old had come to the UK illegally to earn money for her 11-year-old daughter back in Vietnam.

She was offered a job in Portsmouth but did not realise until she got to the house that it involved illegal drugs.

He said she had been given her accommodation, food and a small amount of ‘pocket money’.

‘She was an illegal immigrant, she was vulnerable and she was being taken advantage of,’ he said.

Ly had been staying at the house for six months when the police raided it in November last year.

In her police interview she admitted she knew what the plants were.

Ly, of no fixed address, admitted being concerned in the supply of a class B drug.

Judge Graham White said: ‘I am sure you understand how serious this offence... sentences of imprisonment are inevitable to send out a message of the serious consequences of engaging in this activity.

‘You must have known that what you were doing was illegal. You are in an unfortunate position because I accept that you have to some extent yourself been exploited but you still had free choice.’

Ly could face deportation after serving her sentence.