A third person has been charged over a major cannabis crop that was later stolen from under the noses of police while they were guarding it.
Van Nhieu Nguyen, from Wellard, was described in the Rockingham Magistrate’s Court yesterday as the leaseholder of a property on Thomas Road in Anketell where about 170 hydroponically grown plants were found last Thursday.
The 48-year-old Vietnamese-born Australian has been charged with two counts of cultivating a prohibited plant with intent to sell or supply.
But he is not accused of stealing the plants, which are yet to be recovered.
The court was told about 120 plants were found inside two homes and a shed on the property, while a further 50 plants had been cut off at the base and dumped in bush at the back of the block.
After police made the discovery, it was decided to leave the plants where they were for the night and post a scene guard to secure them until officers returned the next day to remove them.
But when the officers came back, they found thieves had somehow managed to sneak past the police guard and make off with about 100 mature plants.
Mr Nguyen’s lawyer, Alana Padmanabham, told the court her client intended to plead not guilty to the cultivation charges, claiming the case against him appeared to rely solely on the fact that “his name was on a lease”.
Bail was granted on strict conditions, including that he surrender his passport and report to police three times a week.
Mr Nguyen’s 41-year-old girlfriend and a 61-year-old man who worked on the property were arrested on the day the drugs were found and have also been charged with cultivation.
Meanwhile, police have charged two other men after the discovery of more cannabis crops on Wednesday.
A total of 88 plants were allegedly found at a house in Brownell Crescent in Medina and another 200 were seized from a home in Thea Walk in Willetton.
A large amount of cash was also seized from a home in Berwick Street, St James.