Cannabis Accused ‘Had no Idea Crop was There’

A woman charged over a major cannabis crop that was stolen from under the noses of police while they were guarding it has told a Perth court that officers have charged the wrong person.

Thi Tuyet Trang Vo, 41, was arrested on Thursday after council workers who were cutting a firebreak around a semirural block on Thomas Road in Anketell noticed about 30 cannabis plants growing at the rear of the property.

Police found about 130 more plants being grown hydroponically inside buildings.

But the case took a bizarre twist when detectives decided to leave the plants where they were for the night and to post police guards at the scene to protect them.

When detectives returned the following morning, they discovered that thieves had crept in overnight and stolen about 100 of the plants without being noticed.

Ms Vo is not a suspect in the theft. She and her co-accused, 61-year-old Vuong Xuan Bui, have been in custody since the plants were discovered on Thursday.

She faced Perth Magistrate’s Court yesterday accused of cultivating a prohibited plant with intent to sell or supply and of unlawfully possessing $2575 in cash which police claim was found in her handbag when she was arrested.

Her lawyer Chris Miocevich told the court that his client worked at the property as a part-time vegetable picker and had no idea that cannabis was being grown.

He also claimed the money found in her handbag was cash paid to her by customers who bought vegetables from her at an adjoining market garden.

Mr Miocevich requested that she be granted bail so she could look after her three teenage children.

But prosecutors described Ms Vo as a potential flight risk and requested that she be denied bail because the cannabis crop was significant and the charges were likely to result in a jail term if she was convicted.

“There is also ongoing operations and her release is likely to jeopardise that,” prosecutors said.

Mr Miocevich said Ms Vo was an Australian citizen who had migrated from Vietnam almost 20 years ago and had no intention of leaving the country as her life was firmly rooted in WA.

Magistrate Geoff Lawrence agreed to grant bail of $20,000 with a similar surety and ordered Ms Vo to surrender any passports she held and to report to police three times a week.

She was also ordered not to go within 1km of an airport or any other international departure point.

Mr Bui made a brief appearance in the same court yesterday charged with cultivation.

He made no application for bail and was remanded in custody to February 13 for legal advice.

An internal police inquiry is under way into how the drugs were able to be stolen.

And detectives from the organised crime squad are conducting a separate investigation into who was behind the theft.