AN illegal immigrant appeared in court yesterday to face a charge of producing 180 cannabis plants worth thousands of pounds.
Vin Quoc Ngo, originally from Vietnam, is accused of producing the plants at Lockwood Road, Huddersfield, on September 18, 2009.
Before the Kirklees Magistrates hearing continued there was a prolonged discussion between lawyers as to whether the defendant’s case should be heard in an adult court or not.
Legal advisor, Sulaiman Kazi, said the defendant had entered the country as an asylum seeker in 2009 and his age was given by the authorities as being 20, having been born in 1992.
He said: “In my view he should be treated as an adult.”
But John Ozyer, representing the defendant, said his client had no previous convictions and maintained that his date of birth was December 10, 1996.
After listening to the representations, including that from prosecutor, Linda Fowler, chairman of the bench, Christine Mills, agreed that he should be treated as an adult.
Mrs Fowler said he was linked to the alleged cannabis production by fingerprints.
The alleged offence came to light after the landlord of the property in Lockwood Road was informed that cannabis was being grown there.
A hydroponics system and more than 100 small plants were allegedly found there.
Mrs Fowler said the matter was “not suitable” for summary trial given the alleged commercial use and asked for the matter to be referred to the crown court.
She said custody for such an offence could run to at least three years and added: “this court would not have sufficient powers to deal with it.”
Mrs Mills said Ngo, who listened to the proceedings through an interpreter, would have to remain in custody until a plea and case management hearing was heard in Leeds on June 28.