A severely unwell Aucklander caught growing more than 200 cannabis plants and possessing almost $100,000 of dried plant he claimed was for personal use has been jailed for two years, but was shown ''mercy'' by the courts.
Searching for a man who disappeared while on bail in April 2010, police went to Rourke Peter Gregory Crawford-Flett's rural Ahuroa home and uncovered drugs and a shotgun.
About 200 plants of various stages of maturity were found growing outside his north Auckland home. A further 9.3kg of dried cannabis head was found in a shed, where two rooms had been fitted out with drying racks and dehumidifiers, and a shotgun was found in a bedroom.
Crawford-Flett didn't have a gun licence and told police it was for his ''protection''. The cannabis, he told them, was for his personal use and he grew a year's supply at a time.
The 53-year-old, who is blind in one eye, has limited mobility and suffers from a number of medical conditions, was sentenced at the High Court at Auckland earlier this month on charges of possessing and cultivating cannabis for supply and unlawful possession of a firearm.
Police told the court the cannabis grown outdoors was worth up to $60,000 and the dried cannabis about $98,000.
Justice Peter Woodhouse said there was no evidence that Crawford-Flett sold cannabis, other than the ''inference that can be drawn from the quantity''.
''I accept that you will have grown for your own use, and I accept - as I have indicated - that you probably consume a lot of cannabis,'' he said.
''But the quantity is vastly more than you could have consumed in a year.''
The court noted Crawford-Flettt had six previous cannabis convictions.
Five were minor, Justice Woodhouse said, and occurred between 1980 and 1999, but the sixth charge in 2002, for growing the class C drug, resulted in the ACC recipient being jailed for five years.
The court heard Crawford-Flett had received multiple and severe orthopaedic injuries on four separate occasions, had restricted bodily movement and suffered chronic and severe pain.
Crawford-Flett was also blind in one eye, had severe dermatitis, hepatitis C and coeliac disease. He had been prescribed methadone, but found it unhelpful and problematic, the court was told.
Pre-sentence reports noted Crawford-Flett had ''harmful patterns of alcohol and drug use'' and used cannabis to self-medicate.
Justice Woodhouse said home detention wasn't ''technically feasible'' because of where Crawford-Flett lived and because the judge didn't want him to serve his sentence where he had committed his crimes.
He said a starting point sentence for the possession for supply charge, including an uplift for growing cannabis, should be three years and three months - a lenient calculation, Justice Woodhouse said, because he was giving him ''substantial benefit of the doubt'' in respect of him not dealing the drug.
Justice Woodhouse increased that by six months to take into account the firearms charge and Crawford-Flett's previous conviction for growing cannabis, bringing the sentence to three years and nine months.
He then reduced that by 18 months for health reasons and to reflect Crawford-Flett's early guilty pleas, bringing the sentence to 27 months.
Justice Woodhouse then took another three months off the sentence, ''as an exercise of mercy and to do the best I can''.
He hoped this would encourage Crawford-Flett to address his problems once released from prison.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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