A TEENAGER who was jailed after being found by police at a North-East cannabis factory was actually a child victim of human trafficking.

The girl, who can't be identified for legal reasons, was given a custodial sentence after she was advised to plead guilty to being involved in drug production.

But later investigations revealed her harrowing story, which saw her trafficked from South East Asia for exploitation in the UK.

Quashing her conviction at the Court of Appeal, Lord Justice Lloyd Jones said it was now accepted she was only 16 at the time she was found in the Teesside cannabis factory.

“It is accepted by the crown that she was trafficked, initially for sexual exploitation, and thereafter, having escaped, for servitude in cannabis cultivation,” he said.

The court heard the only child was abandoned by her parents and brought up by her grandmother.

But after her grandmother died, she was tricked by a family friend into accompanying him to England, where he said her mother was living.

She was told she should give a false name and lie about her date of birth and did so when stopped by police in the UK.

After her release, she was taken to a house where she was beaten, threatened and forced into having sex with men.

Eventually, she escaped, fleeing to a train station, where she bumped into another man who offered her somewhere to stay.

That turned out to be the house on Teesside, where criminals were growing their drugs, when police raided and found her.

Before her trial, the girl and her lawyers tried to convince the Crown Prosecution Service that she was only 16 and not the 19-year-old they believed.

But it was only after her conviction and long after the end of her sentence that she was finally able to convince them.

On Tuesday her lawyers went to the Court of Appeal in London to have her conviction overturned, with the CPS supporting the application.

The Home Office had since assessed her case and was now convinced that she was a child victim of human trafficking, the court heard.

The girl's home country had also written to confirm that she was still a minor at the time she was convicted.

Lord Justice Lloyd Jones said there was “compelling evidence” that the girl was the victim in the case.

Had the prosecution been aware of that at the time, it would not have continued with the case in the public interest, he continued.

The girl's conviction was overturned and her name cleared.