Page last updated at 17:37 GMT, Thursday, 5 February 2009

Drugs 'gardener' to be deported

judge's gavel

A Chinese man caught acting as gardener for cannabis plants worth hundreds of thousands of pounds last May is to be deported after serving a jail term.

Belfast Crown Court heard that Lianhui Wang, 40, had been brought from London to care for the "cannabis factory" on the Old Westland Road in north Belfast.

Wang was jailed for 21 months after pleading guilty to separate charges of possessing and cultivating cannabis.

A defence lawyer said Wang would not contest any deportation order imposed.

A prosecution lawyer said 1,564 cannabis plants in various stages of cultivation were uncovered by authorities when they raided the house last year.

She said it was accepted that Wang's role had been that of "gardener" and while he initially had entered the UK legally, at the time of his arrest his visa had expired.

Wang's lawyer said he had travelled to Belfast two weeks before his arrest, on the promise of a job as a handyman and he "was entirely economically dependant on those who brought him into the UK in the first place and to those who brought him here".

Passing sentence, Judge Tom Burgess said the cannabis factory "was a sophisticated and substantial operation" and one which was on the increase in Northern Ireland.

He warned that "this growing menace of cultivation and the scale of it,' may mean the courts having to consider whether sentences should be increased."

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