Crop sitter jailed over ‘sophisticated’ set up

A Pakenham man will join his co-offender in jail after police uncovered a “sophisticated” crop house with more than 60kg of cannabis growing in his rental home.

Phat Duong, along with co-offender Nhu Ho Ai Dinh, pleaded guilty for cultivating cannabis and stealing electricity when police raided their Salvia Avenue property on 30 October last year.

As a result of the search warrant, police located 36 cannabis plants growing in three seperate rooms, Victorian County Court Judge George Georgiou told the court.

In total, the crops weighed 64 kilograms which is almost three times the legal commercial amount.

The court heard an electrical bypass system was found to be installed in the main bedroom of the house.

Following the police raid, an electrician measured the energy in use at 32.48 amps, while the meter only recorded 4.23 amps in use.

It was later revealed that Duong was not the prime organiser of the crop house operation.

“It was submitted but not disputed that you were to receive some of the proceeds from the sale of the cannabis,” Judge Georgiou said.

It is understood the reason Duong became involved in the cultivation was to “make a bit of money”, the court heard.

As the 35-year-old was not the prime organiser of the operation, he was charged on a single-day only basis – the day police uncovered the crop house.

“I accept that you were not the organiser of the crop and there is no evidence to suggest that your role was anything other than that of a crop sitter,” Judge Georgiou said.

“Nevertheless, the role of a crop sitter is an important one – enabling cannabis cultivation and trafficking enterprises to succeed at shielding those higher up from the risk of detection.”

In sentencing, Judge Georgiou said he found Duong to be “genuinely remorseful”.

Judge Georgiou also acknowledged the fact he has no previous convictions and the references provided showed he is a person of “otherwise good character” with “very good” prospects of rehabilitation.

Duong was sentenced to two years’ jail with a one year non-parole period on 11 September.

However he has already served 91 days of pre-sentence detention.

Co-offender Dinh was sentenced to two years’ jail with a one year non-parole period on 22 July.