A 46-year-old Vietnamese man wanted to earn easy money when he took part in a large cannabis growing operation in Black Hill two years ago, a judge has said.
Dam Van Nguyen admitted to growing a portion of the 205 cannabis plants found at the Sweeney Street property in December 2017.
County Court Judge Frank Gucciardo told Nguyen at a sentencing hearing on Friday he took part in the grow house operation in 2017 to ease the financial burden on his family and perhaps rent a house.
Two men had approached Nguyen at Crown Casino and asked him to be a driver in Ballarat for associates of the Sweeney Street grow house.
The Vietnamese man, whose wife was pregnant, agreed and willingly drove from his Melbourne home to Ballarat to carry out his role.
Nguyen was offered $1000, which he has never received.
"Your wife was pregnant with her first child and this came as an opportunity," Judge Gucciardo said.
Your desire for easy money was a motivation for greed and attributed itself to criminal enterprise.Judge Frank Gucciardo
The judge said Nguyen knew cannabis was being grown at the Black Hill property and had admitted to remaining there for two nights.
A hand-print found on a door matched the left palm print of Nguyen, while a toothbrush forensically analysed indicated the DNA belonged to him.
Police raided the Sweeney Street property on December 20, locating 205 plants of varying sizes and maturity weighing about 100 kilograms.
The sophisticated hydroponic cannabis crop was growing in various rooms in the house and shed.
After his arrest on December 27, 2017, Nguyen was held in custody where he missed the birth of his baby.
Last week in Ballarat, Nguyen pleaded guilty to cultivating 73 cannabis plants at the property. The prosecution said Nguyen nursed the plants on November 10, 2017.
Judge Gucciardo said Nguyen's role was at the lower end of the scale and he took into account his guilty plea, non-criminal history and his good prospects for rehabilitation.
He was sentenced to 605 days in jail, which he has already served on remand. If he had pleaded not guilty, the judge said Nguyen would have received three years' jail with a non-parole period of two years.
It is uncertain if Nguyen will be deported to Vietnam.
Have you signed up to The Courier's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in Ballarat.