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South Armagh drug factory accused ‘had been surviving on dog food’

Belfast High Court

A man allegedly found working in a south Armagh cannabis factory was himself a human trafficking victim who had been surviving by eating dog food, it has been claimed in the High Court.

Thirty-two-year-old To Duc Tien faces a catalogue of charges following the discovery of £275,000 worth of cannabis plants at a house at Newry Road in Mullaghbawn last April.

Among those charges, he has been accused of importing, possessing and cultivating cannabis, as well as conspiracy to supply the Class B drug.

The High Court was told that three rooms in the property had been converted into a cannabis factory and 530 plants were found during the raid.

The accused claimed that he had paid $27,000 dollars to fellow Vietnamese criminals to be smuggled into Dublin and that he was being controlled by them.

He also alleged that he had had his passport seized from him upon arrival and was taken to the south Armagh house by a Chinese national.

A prosecutor agreed in court that the accused did appear to be a victim of human trafficking.

A defence barrister told the court he had been instructed that Tien was discovered in a house in which there were half-eaten tins of dog food and this is what his client had been surviving on.

Bail was granted to the accused to live at an address in Belfast and a number of conditions of imposed.

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