A MAN who was found with close to 300 cannabis plants in a Rochester property has been jailed for more than two years.
Lam Le, 52, appeared in the County Court on Friday where he pleaded guilty to one charge of cultivating a commercial quantity of cannabis.
Police raided the George Street property on April 22 last year and found a hydroponic set-up.
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After searching through six different rooms, officers found 292 cannabis plants weighing a total of 260.85 kilograms.
Le was at the house at the time and tried to hide from officers. But he was later arrested and taken to the Bendigo Police Station for questioning.
Le told police he went to the property once every two days or so and "people" told him he needed to look after the plants. The 52-year-old never told police who those "people" were.
Judge Francis Hogan noted in her sentencing remarks that Le moved from Vietnam to Australia in late 2018 to support his family.
Judge Hogan said Le had a wife and two teenage children in Vietnam, but when he started working in an Australian nail salon he met his new partner and had a child with her in January 2020.
The judge noted Le's work began to decline in early 2020 and he turned to the offending as a way to support his partner and young child.
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The defence submitted Le expected to be paid between $4000 and $5000 but he never received any money.
Judge Hogan said while the status of Le's visa was unclear, she acknowledged his likely deportation and separation from his partner and young child would make prison more onerous.
The judge said there was no evidence of remorse submitted to the court, besides Le's early guilty plea.
But Judge Hogan also noted Le had spent more than 400 days in custody during the COVID-19 pandemic, which would have been difficult due to quarantine periods and limited family visits.
The judge said the sentence ultimately needed to reflect the seriousness of the charges.
"Many people in the community are addicted to cannabis," Judge Hogan said. "It adversely affects their physical and mental health. It takes a toll on the whole community."
Judge Hogan said it was reasonable to consider that Le had good prospects of rehabilitation, although there was limited evidence to reflect that sentiment.
Le was convicted and jailed for two years and six months, with a non-parole period of one year and eight months. His 417 days of pre-sentence detention were reckoned as already served.
If Le did not plead guilty, he would have been sentenced to four years in jail with a non-parole period of three years.
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