Cannabis mum's sentence is cut

A MUM who made more than £160,000 from an industrial-scale cannabis operation has had her sentence cut on appeal, it emerged today.

A MUM who made more than £160,000 from an industrial-scale cannabis operation has had her sentence cut on appeal, it emerged today.

Phu Ha Bui, 29, used the money her brother, Anh Ha Bui, made in the Ipswich-based operation to pay off nearly all of her £221,250 mortgage in just three years.

She was convicted of acquiring criminal property at Ipswich Crown Court last year and sentenced to a total of five years in jail on March 16.

Anh Ha Bui, 34, was convicted of conspiring to produce cannabis at the same hearing, and sentenced to four years' imprisonment.

At London's Criminal Appeal Court, lawyers for Phu argued there was a “disparity” between the siblings' sentences and that her previous good character, the fact she was heavily pregnant at the time of sentencing and her 'model' behaviour in prison should be taken into account.

Mr Justice Mitting, sitting with Judge Brian Barker, said Anh had “managed or organised the three premises where cannabis was produced on an industrial scale”.

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He said the operation was uncovered when police searched the properties, all in Ipswich, in May 2006. They found about 150kg of cannabis, with a street value of more than £400,000.

In August 2006, officers searched Phu's then home, in Colchester, and found electric cabling in her garden shed, as well as other paraphernalia used in the other three premises.

"On arrest, she had £161,000 in her bank account," the judge said.

"She bought a house in February 2004 and, three years later, she had paid off £191,000 of the mortgage.

"She was running a successful business as a nail technician, with three shops in East Anglia, but the income from that could not conceivably have justified the substantial sums of money passing through her hands."

Phu's sentence was cut to four years.

Giving his judgement, the judge said: "We have been persuaded that, in the light of the sentence imposed on the brother, who did the organising and producing, a sentence of five years for the sister, who dealt with the financial product of the illegal activity, is manifestly excessive.

"There is, in our view, no good reason to distinguish between the two."

Was the appeal court right to cut Bui's sentence? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail

VIETNAMESE nationals Anh Hai Bui, his sister Ha Phu Bui as well as Phuong Thi Vu, Tham Thi Hoang and Tranh Tran were involved in growing as much as £1.5m of cannabis at houses in Clarkson Street, London Road and Norwich Road.

The gang was jailed for a total of 14 years.

Although Ha Phu Bui was not convicted of growing the cannabis, she was found guilty at Ipswich Crown Court of making money from crime.

Tham Thi Hoang and Tranh Tran were sentenced to 18 months in prison. Thi Vu was jailed for 21 months.