A man linked to two cannabis crops numbering hundreds of plants has pleaded guilty to his role in the operation.
Muoi Thai, 28, was arrested in January 2019 following the discovery of cannabis operations in houses on the Midland Highway at Huntly and Dianella Court in Kangaroo Flat.
On October 2, 2018, police raided a Huntly house after identifying an electrical bypass at the premises.
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They discovered most of the rooms had been converted for the purposes of growing cannabis and found 375 plants, weighing more than 311 kilograms, as well as more than one kilogram of dried cannabis.
Inside were also chemicals, transformers, extraction fans, and other equipment.
The owner of the property provided police with a rental application signed by Thai using an assumed identity, as well as copies of a learner driving permit and a bank card under Thai's alias.
Thai was also the registered owner of a vehicle found at the address.
Later that month, police found another vehicle registered to Thai at a St Albans hotel, and inside it found a Bunnings Epsom receipt.
CCTV obtained from Bunnings showed Thai purchasing bamboo gardening stakes that matched those found at the Huntly address.
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Police identified a link to a second property in Kangaroo Flat, which was raided on January 7 last year.
Thai was at the home at the time but fled, and was later discovered hiding in a dog kennel on a Calder Highway property.
Inside the Kangaroo Flat house were 102 cannabis plants, weighing almost 92 kilograms, as well as dried cannabis.
There was a watering system, lights, extractor fans and other equipment.
In another vehicle at that address, police found the learner permit and bank card that matched those provided with the rental application for the Huntly house, and $990 cash.
Police also searched Thai's St Albans home and found equipment for cultivation, including chemicals and extractor fans.
When police interviewed Thai, he made no comment in relation to the Huntly house but admitted the car found at the Kangaroo Flat address was his.
He said he sometimes slept at the address, he looked after the plants, he set up the house with his "boss", and he was paid $3000 per month for the rent.
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On Friday, Thai pleaded guilty in the County Court to cultivating a commercial quantity of cannabis, dealing with property suspected of being the proceeds of crime, and fraudulent use of a licence.
Defence counsel Ashlee Cannon submitted that while Thai had rented the Huntly property, there was no evidence he had sourced the property, nor could Judge Kevin Doyle assume he had been there.
But Ms Cannon accepted her client had rented the property with the knowledge it was to be used for cultivation.
"The Crown position is that his involvement in the Huntly crop is more than that of crop-sitter," prosecutor Michelle Zammit said, adding that by pleading guilty, Thai was aware there was a commercial quantity of plants inside.
Ms Zammit said Thai was not the "ultimate beneficiary" of the crop, however.
Ms Cannon submitted that the median sentence for the crime of cultivating a commercial quantity of a narcotic plant was two years, but conceded to Judge Doyle's view that two years was at the bottom of the range of the sentence length for this case.
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Thai had already spent almost two years in custody, she said, and "most certainly" would be deported upon his release.
She submitted there was uncertainty as to whether Thai's partner and young child would return to Vietnam.
Ms Cannon said Thai came to Australia from Vietnam at the age of 17 and stayed almost two years to study English.
He returned to Vietnam briefly in 2011, she said, then returned on work visa, but stayed on illegally after it expired in 2013.
Ms Cannon told the court Thai had been working as a tiler but broke his hand, and as an illegal immigrant without money, he turned to someone who had offered help.
However, Ms Cannon said, there was "a bit of a catch" to this offer of assistance and he felt indebted to this person, and that was how he became involved with the cannabis operations.
Mas Zammit submitted Thai's offending was a "really serious example" of cultivation, given the amount of cannabis found and his role.
Thai will be sentenced on Monday, November 16.
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