A CONVICTED cannabis 'farmer' was caught red-handed as he tried to bring a consignment of the class B drug worth £130,000 into Carlisle, a court heard.

Motorway traffic police became suspicious of Quynh Thai after spotting his Toyota car heading north on the M6 near Tebay on September 10. The 40-year-old initially pulled over for the police car but as the officers approached his vehicle, he sped off, triggering a pursuit that continued for several miles.

He eventually pulled over at Durdar, south of Carlisle.

When police approached his car, they noticed a strong smell of cannabis.

In the boot of his car, officers found three large laundry bags stuffed with cannabis. The estimated street value of the 13 kilo drugs haul was £130,000, prosecutor Gerard Rogerson told Carlisle Crown Court.

The defendant, who was serving a suspended 26 week jail sentence imposed in June last year for cannabis production when he was caught, admitted possessing the drug with intent to supply.

When he was interviewed, the defendant claimed he believed he was transporting "foods and medicines".

Asked what he thought caused the strong strong smell was that emanated from the boot of his car, he claimed he had contracted covid three weeks earlier and could not smell anything. He said he had been approached by a man in an Asian food shop in Manchester and asked to transport the bags to Carlisle.

Tariq Khawam, for the defendant, said he clearly now accepted his role in transporting the drug, given his guilty plea.

An illegal immigrant, his job options had been limited.

"His main aim now is to return home," said the lawyer, pointing out that Thai hoped to help his elderly father care for his mother, who has had a cancer diagnosis. For his role in transporting the drugs, the defendant was paid £200, added Mr Khawam.

Judge Nicholas Barker jailed Thai for 14 months. The judge told the defendant: "I am satisfied that you had some understanding of the scale of the operation. You were removing a significant quantity of cannabis."

The defendant is likely to be deported after serving his sentence.