FOUR people appeared at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court yesterday, accused of being involved in drug farms in the borough.
They were all Vietnamese, and appeared in three separate cases in relation to cannabis farm finds in Talbot Road, Mortimer Road and Chichester Road, all South Shields.
Hung Manh Nguyen was arrested on Thursday after 183 cannabis plants were found in a house in Mortimer Road. The 22-year-old pleaded guilty to production of the Class C drug.
Michael Rose, prosecuting, told the court that the defendant let himself into the house while police were there dismantling the farm.
He said: “It was 10.30am when police executed a search warrant at the house.
There was no one there at the time, and inside they found 183 plants in different sizes and cannabis leaves, spread out on the floor to dry out.
“While they were there, the defendant let himself in with a key and was arrested.”
The court heard that when interviewed by police, Nguyen handed them a statement which admitted he was responsible for growing the drugs, but he only did it to pay off a debt.
Nguyen, of no fixed abode, said he couldn’t tell the officers who was behind the farm, because he was scared he would come to harm.
Magistrates decided the case should be sentenced at Newcastle Crown Court and remanded him in custody until a date yet to be fixed.
The second case of the day was Pham Thi Chou, who is accused of being behind a 172-plant cannabis farm in Talbot Road, which was found on December 16.
Magistrates had previously declined jurisdiction of the 51-year-old’s charge of producing a Class B drug, and asked for it to be dealt with at Newcastle Crown Court.
Chou, who cannot speak English and is of no fixed abode, was back at the court for the case to be formally transferred to Newcastle, where she will appear on March 4.
In the final case of the day, Dung Van Doan and Van Giang Huang, both 32, appeared accused of being behind the latest cannabis farm to be busted, in Chichester Road.
The men, of no fixed abode, were arrested on Friday after police saw them running away from the property where the farm was found – two houses with 409 cannabis plants spread over three floors.
They both pleaded not guilty to production of a Class B drug, and their solicitor, Paul Kennedy, told the court that they deny being responsible for the plants.
Magistrates declined jurisdiction of their cases, and asked for it to be dealt with at Newcastle Crown Court.
Both were remanded in custody until February 19, when they will receive a date for when the case will be committed to Newcastle.