Men who grew huge cannabis crop jailed
Jail terms have been handed down to two men after police seized a huge haul of cannabis from a rural North Taranaki property last year.
On Thursday, Bryan Dennis Lester and Anthony John Young were sent to prison for two years and seven months.
The pair previously pleaded guilty to a charge of possession of cannabis for supply on the basis of a sentencing indication given by Judge Chris Sygrove they would be jailed for that period of time.
The men were arrested on April 11, 2017, after police and members of the Armed Offenders Squad raided a property on Otaraoa Rd in Tikorangi.
The search turned up a significant amount of cannabis, along with other items linked to a commercial growing operation, including a diesel-fuelled heater, dehumidifiers and pedestal fans.
In total,199 string lines were found, full of cuttings of what was described in the summary of facts as ‘‘good quality cannabis head’’.
Large bags containing the offcuts and stalks of the cannabis plants were also hauled away by police.
The total weight of the cannabis found was about 57 kilograms, but this included the stalk of the plant, which had no value.
Police separated out the cannabis head, which is the most sought after part of the plant due to its high concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol or THC.
This was found to have a total weight of 26.5kg, which had a street value of between $175,500 and $292,500.
During the sentencing hearing in the New Plymouth District Court, Young’s lawyer Susan Hughes QC asked Judge Sygrove to consider a further reduction on his sentence to take into account information provided by her client’s doctor.
The letter outlined how Young’s health at the time of the offending meant he would have been physically incapable of being involved in the cultivation or any ‘‘heavy servicing of the crop’’.
She said Young, 50, had also been using the class C drug as pain relief.
Hughes QC argued home detention was an option if the judge was minded to grant a further reduction in sentence.
Kylie Pascoe, who represented Lester, said it had been a ‘‘very difficult road’’ for the 48-year-old in recent weeks.
Prosecutor Jacob Bourke argued against Young getting any further reduction on his sentence due to his health issues and said this had already been taken into account at the sentencing indication hearing.
Judge Sygrove agreed and said Young had already had the benefit of six months being taken off his sentence because of his health issues.
He said Young had previous drug convictions so had to have known it ‘‘was going to lead to tears if you were found out.’’
The judge shared similar sentiments about Lester.
‘‘You are very well aware of the dangers of being involved in a major cannabis operation like this.
‘‘You took a risk and you got caught,’’ he said.