Drug addict 'swapped weed for P'

In an effort to fund his expensive methamphetamine habit, an Ashhurst man grew more than 800 cannabis plants so he could swap weed for P.

On October 28 last year, Aaron James Hockly, 29, was living and working near Dannevirke.

He was also growing cannabis and when police searched the property he was staying at, they found a garage with 164 mature cannabis plants and 699 seedlings - 863 plants in total.

On expert estimated the yield from that to be 14.25 kilograms of the drug, the Palmerston North District Court heard yesterday.Judge Gerard Lynch said the operation was sophisticated and included five lamps, six fans, a dehumidifier, a carbon filter and an electric heater.

Hockly was also diverting electricity without paying for it, although the amount he used is disputed.

Hockly admitted growing the drug so he could swap it for methamphetamine, which he had used for eight to 10 years - a habit that could cost $250 to $1000 a week.

''For a man who was in the grip of an extensive methamphetamine addiction you remained productive. You've maintained good employment over those years,'' Judge Lynch told Hockly.

He had been drug free since his arrest and defence lawyer Steve Winter asked for a home detention term to be imposed.

Mr Winter said his client was seeking addiction help and was in a stable relationship.

''He has loving support from people who will simply not tolerate his return to the drug scene.'' But the judge disagreed with Mr Winter's plea and on one charge each of cannabis cultivation and theft of electricity, Hockly was jailed for two years and four months.

''This was an organised an well-prepared growing operation,'' Judge Lynch said.

Manawatu Standard