A man charged in connection with a suspected cannabis factory, discovered following a shed fire in South Armagh, has “absconded” to native Vietnam according to his solicitor.
The 49-year-old was due to appear before Armagh Magistrates’ Court, sitting at Newry for the purposes of a preliminary enquiry (PE), the legal process during which a case is referred to the higher court.
Huy Ty Vo, of Carncaver Road in Belfast, is charged with producing Class B and possessing Class B with intent to supply.
However, defence counsel told court: “We are instructed that Mr Huy Ty has absconded back to Vietnam.”
District Judge Bernie Kelly then issued an arrest warrant for the defendant, adding: “Hopefully that will be enough to keep him from our shores.”
At a previous bail hearing, a constable outlined that on August 1, shortly before 6pm, police were called to reports of a fire on the Derrywilligan Road, Bessbrook.
Three men had been observed running from the burning building, with one of them, allegedly the defendant, being detained by a member of the public.
Three large bags of suspected cannabis were allegedly located near Vo and after the fire was extinguished police located a suspected cannabis plant growing in the building.
The defendant was subsequently arrested and conveyed to Banbridge Police Station.
During interview, Vo claimed he had entered this jurisdiction via France approximately three months ago, arriving in Northern Ireland in the back of a container from an unknown port with around 20 others.
He stated that he was then transferred to the address in Bessbrook and was put to work, along with another two Vietnamese nationals, cultivating the cannabis plants.
Vo alleged he had been working and living in the same building, stating that he was not paid and instead was working for food and board.
The defendant went on to say that he was working to pay off his debt for travel into the country, but he had never been told the value of this.