Judge jails dope grower

A Palmerston North man "went bush" to avoid facing his punishment after admitting drugs charges.

But Jamie Alan Turner, 28, was found in June and has now been sentenced in the High Court in Palmerston North.

Justice Forrest Miller, in his judgment released this week, jailed Turner for two years and one month on one charge each of growing cannabis and possessing it for supply.

On August 26 last year, police searched the house Turner shared with his partner and found a "substantial cannabis-growing operation".

One of the bedrooms had been turned into a growing room lined with plastic and equipped with heaters and fans. There were six larger plants and 96 small pots containing cannabis plant stumps.

In the second bedroom there was a "growing setup" in a cabinet, while 63 cannabis cuttings and 1.5 kilograms of cannabis head were found in the kitchen.

Further searches revealed another 400 grams of cannabis and a set of electronic scales, although there was no other equipment expected of a dealer.

"You account for the offending by saying that you were addicted to cannabis, which you and your partner smoked in substantial quantities," Justice Miller told Turner.

While the judge was prepared to accept Turner and his partner smoked a good deal of the drug, that did not change the fact that Turner admitted a charge of possessing it for supply.

"In any event, the quantity of cannabis and scale of the operation were such that I could not possibly accept that you were growing for personal use. The scales, too, are a strong pointer towards commercial purpose."

Turner pleaded guilty to the charges on September 21 last year and was to be sentenced on November 18.

"You did not appear in court on that day, having panicked when you learned that the Crown had invited the District Court to decline jurisdiction," Justice Miller said. "You appear to have gone bush in order to evade sentence. You were eventually found and arrested on June 4."

The judge said Turner had "significant" previous convictions, including two involving drugs, but had not been jailed before.

Justice Miller said Turner was "clearly" a drug addict and there was little evidence to suggest he was trying to beat his addiction.

Manawatu Standard