A would-be priest has been jailed for acting as a gardener at a £400,000 cannabis factory.

Vietnam-born Tung Vu claimed he thought he was looking after Chinese herbal plants.

But the 34-year-old former economics student admitted a charge of producing a controlled drug and was jailed for two years and eight months at Birmingham Crown Court.

Alistair Redford, prosecuting, said Vu told police they had “come on a bad day” when they knocked on his door in Grassmere Road, Handsworth, on January 3 last year.

The officers, who were making enquiries about an unrelated robbery, were said to have been hit by the smell of cannabis.

They found almost 230 plants, capable of producing harvests worth up to £400,000-a-year, in a bedroom, Mr Redford said. And a second bedroom and the loft were being converted to grow more plants.

The police also discovered Vu’s belongings, including plane tickets and £120 in cash, along with growth accelerant, face masks and gloves.

Vu said he had only been in Birmingham for a few days, having travelled from Bedford with another Vietnamese man.

Malcolm Fowler, defending, said Vu had been striving to pursue his vocation and had been unaware of the value of the crop.

But that claim was dismissed by Judge Nicholas Webb.

Passing sentence, he told Vu: “You are an intelligent man who studied economics at university and was thinking of going into the Catholic priesthood.

“One harvest alone would be valued at £102,600. Annually the yield could have been between £300,000 and £400,000.

“There were 228 plants. You must have known the significance of that.”