Men who grew huge cannabis crop jailed

Taranaki Daily News - - News - DEENA COSTER

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.

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