Banbury cannabis farmer was ‘modern slave’, prosecution accepts

Banbury cannabis farmer was ‘modern slave’, prosecution accepts

A Vietnamese ‘slave’ found in a Banbury cannabis farm will no longer face criminal charges – after prosecutors accepted he was being forced to grow drugs.

Phi Nguyen, 24, had been due to stand trial this week accused of producing the class B drug.

It followed police finding him tending plants in a house in West Street, Banbury, on November 1 last year.

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However, prosecutor Cathy Olliver told Oxford Crown Court on Tuesday that the case had been reviewed in light of a Home Office body, known as the Single Competent Authority, ruling that Nguyen was a victim of ‘modern slavery’.

The Crown Prosecution Service was now offering no evidence to support the prosecution.

Judge Maria Lamb formally recorded a not guilty verdict.

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She was told by Ms Olliver that it wasn’t believed Nguyen was wanted on immigration offences, although checks would be carried out by the custody staff in the cells at the crown court.

The judge to Nguyen, who stood in the dock wearing a tracksuit jumper with ‘London’ emblazoned across the front: “You will go back downstairs for some checks to be done.” The message was relayed to the defendant through a Vietnamese interpreter.

Emma Hornby appeared for the defendant.

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