A MAN who tended 200 plants in an illegal cannabis factory in Flintshire told a jury he thought they were bonsai trees.

However, failed asylum seeker Min Wang was yesterday convicted of producing the class B drug and was jailed for three-and-a-half years.

Judge John Rogers, QC, said he did not regard Wang as simply a gardener who watered the plants but a manager who had been responsible for installing sophisticated growing equipment and the plants, and who had mixed the fertilisers and chemicals needed to produce the healthy growing plants found by police.

Police laid in wait when the landlord of a house in Bwlchgwyn called in police after he found the locks had been changed and there was a strong, pungent, smell coming from the property.

Officers found the house had been gutted – every room apart from the conservatory had been turned over into a cannabis growing factory and that hydroponics growing systems, with cables, heating and extraction systems, had been installed.

The potential yield of the cannabis plants if sold on the street could be as much as £80,000, it was claimed.

Two officers laid in wait until Wang, 27, arrived.

He fled when confronted, the police helicopter and a police dog were called out, and he was arrested after he was found hiding in a bush nearby.

Wang, of the Kensington area of Liverpool but who refused to give his precise address, denied a charge of producing cannabis plants at the house in Cae’r Efail in Bwlchgwyn between May and August 209 last year.

He agreed that he was watering the plants but the jury was asked to accept that he genuinely did not know that they were illegal cannabis plants and he believed they were the British equivalent of a Chinese ‘get rich’ bonsai tree.

A jury at Mold Crown Court was told Wang, whose main job was to deliver take-away food at £1 a time at a shop in Buckley, admitted visiting the house twice a day to water the plants on behalf of another man.

But he claimed he had been duped.

When arrested Wang had £1,240 on him in £20 notes and £60 in loose change.

Wang said the £1,000 was the money he had been paid in order to water the plants, the £240 were earnings from delivering fast food, and the £60 was change available to give to customers when making his food deliveries.

It was the other man who set up the equipment and who paid him to tend to the plants, he said.

An investigation under The Proceeds of Crime Act will now take place.