A FOURTH potential case of human trafficking this year concerning the growing and supply of cannabis in Inverclyde has come before Greenock Sheriff Court.

Vietnamese national Quan Van Phan — charged with producing the drug in Port Glasgow — is the latest accused man to receive an intermediate 'positive' decision from the Home Office.

The case comes after his fellow countryman, How Van Hoang, 40, fled after being allowed bail before a 'conclusive' decision in his case had been reached.

How and a 17-year-old Vietnamese youth had been charged regarding a claimed £1m cannabis in a disused bingo hall in the Port.

Another accused man, Hungarian national Enea Kurti, 33 — charged with growing cannabis in a house in Kilmacolm — is also awaiting a final decision from the Single Competent Authority (SCA) department of the Home Office.

However, the interim position in Kurti's case is that he was not subject to human trafficking.

In the latest case, Mr Quan, is accused of growing cannabis in a flat in School Court, Jean Street, Port Glasgow, and being concerned in the supply of the drug and tampering with an electricity meter.

His lawyer, Edward Sweeney, confirmed to the court: "There is a suggestion that my client could be a victim of human trafficking and there is a potential special defence of coercion.

"Three applications for bail have been refused since he was remanded in custody.

"It is a complicated case for the defence."

Prosecutor Mark Nicol said: "The matter revolves around the SCA.

"A positive reasonable grounds decision has been made.

"The process is that there is then a period of reflection and the case is handed to a case worker."

Mr Nicol said that a final decision will be submitted to police, who will then relay the outcome to the Crown.

He added: "It can be a long and meandering road with the single competent authority.

"I will endeavour to resolve the matter as expeditiously as possible."

Sheriff Michael Higgins adjourned matters until December 7 and further remanded Mr Quan in custody.