A VIETNAMESE man who cultivated a £100,000 cannabis farm in Saltcoats has been jailed for three-and-a-half years, despite claiming he was the victim of human trafficking.

Quyet Nguyen appeared at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court last week with an interpreter, charged with producing a class B drug at an address in Sidney Street between September 21 and December 7 last year.

At a previous appearance the 38-year-old had pled guilty to the charge with his lawyer Douglas McPhee telling the court that his client had been a victim of human trafficking after flying into Wales from Vietnam before coming to Scotland.

The defence were were awaiting a Home Office report to confirm his claims.

However at the sentencing hearing last week, his solicitor Graeme Cunningham, standing in for Mr McPhee, told the court the Home Office had rejected his claim and said he had entered the country of his own free will – even paying for his own ticket.

Mr Cunningham did, however, say the Home Office conceded that once he had arrived, first in Wales, before coming to Scotland, he had his passport ‘forcibly removed’.

Mr Cunningham said: “A decision has been made that he is not the victim of human trafficking in all probability.

“(However) He was not able to understand fully the implications or consequences of what he had farmed.”

Sheriff Iona MacDonald indicated that due to the Home office findings, Nguyen’s immigration status and the amount of cannabis found she had no option but to jail him.

She said: “I have heard the facts and circumstances surrounding this case. We have been waiting for a decision from the Home Office and they have said definitively that you have not been trafficked.

“You have been charged with looking after plants in a house in what can only be described as a professional large scale production of cannabis. The potential value of the plants discovered was substantial.

“It has been agreed on your behalf that you were only the gardener and therefore at the lower end of culpability. Due to your immigration status you are unsuitable for any other disposal.

“Taking in to account the amount of cannabis found I sentence you to 42 months imprisonment.”