Page last updated at 17:59 GMT, Monday, 8 June 2009 18:59 UK

Smuggled girl jailed over drugs

A Vietnamese teenager who paid £20,000 to be smuggled to the UK has been jailed for 18 months after admitting cultivating cannabis in Hertfordshire.

Que Ha, 18, was taken to Letchworth by her smugglers to look after 160 plants at a house, Luton Crown Court heard.

Prosecutor Alan Landsbury said when police raided a house in Haysman Close in May, Ha was found there alone.

Her defence team said Ha wanted to earn money for her hard-up family in Vietnam but was paid nothing.

Ha told officers she had been there since January and one crop of plants had already been taken away in March to allow a new one to be planted.

'Taken advantage of'

She said she would turn on the lights for 12 hours a day and mix the chemicals and water for the hydroponic system.

The electricity meter had been by-passed, said Mr Landsbury.

The teenager at one stage on her journey to the UK had to hang from the bottom of a lorry and how her family still having to repay the £20,000 they borrowed to pay people traffickers.

For the defence, William Smith said: "She thought she would be working in restaurants and hotels, but instead she was taken advantage of.

"She is very concerned about the circumstances she is in and it is her desire to go back to Vietnam as soon as possible."

Judge Laura Harris told Ha: "This is a very serious offence. It was a relatively sophisticated set up."

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