A VIETNAMESE man was locked up for being involved in producing cannabis at a 'factory' in Pontypool.

Duc Nguyen, a 19-year-old illegal immigrant from Vietnam, was sentenced to eight months in a young offenders' institution after pleading guilty to being involved in the production of cannabis.

Cardiff crown court heard that the factory was discovered when an alert police officer was amazed when he smelt cannabis as he walked along a street.

PC Scott Thomas was also surprised to see the curtains moving even though the windows were closed.

A search warrant was obtained and a "cannabis factory" was revealed on April 4 with more than 300 plants growing on two floors.

Nguyen had been recruited in London and sent to the house in Machine Meadow, Pontnewynydd, to tend the plants, said prosecutor Roger Griffiths.

Judge Roderick Denyer told Nguyen: "I accept you were there to look after the plants and had nothing to do with setting up the factory. You were also paid a small amount of money."

Mr Griffiths said 171 plants were in their infancy and 130 were approaching their optimum height.

Nguyen was found in bed and £215 was discovered in a pair of jeans.

The electricity meter had been by-passed and 57 halogen lamps and fans and a watering system were in operation.

When arrested Nguyen answered "No comment" to every question.

His counsel, Marianne Bennett said: "He didn't set up the operation. While staying with friends in London he accepted the offer of looking after the plants and was paid £200 a month.

"He came to Britain two years ago from Vietnam with the promise of a job but nothing came up."

It was when he arrived in Pontypool, she said, that he realised the job involved cannabis.

"He led a pretty miserable existence living alone.

"A neighbour took pity on him and took him to Pontypool College to learn English. He has learnt his lesson and will be deported."

She said Nguyen was anxious to return home where his father is seriously ill.