Cannabis gardener jailed at Crown Court

A Chinese national who cultivated cannabis with a street value of £1 million at three different locations in Northern Ireland was jailed for two years and eight months when he appeared before Londonderry Crown Court.

Liang Sheng Wu (51), of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty to three charges of cultivating cannabis between September 2014 and May 2015.

The prosecution said it was accepted that Wu was a gardener for the cannabis plants at three locations and made sure they had sufficient food and heat. Each cannabis factory was located in commercial style warehouses and the first to be searched by police was in Carrickmore, near Omagh, where 400 plants were found.

Searches in Mill Isle, Co Down and Knockloughrim, Magherafelt resulted in a further 1,600 plants seized.

Wu and a co-accused, who absconded, were arrested in Magherafelt and the court heard the estimated street value of the 2,000 plants was in the region of £1,000,000.

During police interview, Wu, who moved to Northern Ireland on a six month visa in 2006, admitted the gardening side of the operation. He was later connected to the Omagh and Mill Isle warehouses through fingerprint and DNA evidence.

After losing his job in a fish factory Wu was offered employment by the owner of a cannabis factory and the offer of money in his pocket and a roof over his head was too much, the defence said. The court was told Wu would likely to be deported after serving his sentence.

Judge Philip Babington ordered Wu to spend half his sentence in custody and half on licence.