Cannabis plants cost man his home

ANNA WILLIAMS
Last updated 09:28 17/06/2014
NMDHB
DEREK FLYNN/FAIRFAX NZ

SEIZED: This Picton home is going to auction after the Ministry of Justice seized the property.

NMDHB
GUILTY: Owner Gary Tittleton was convicted on drug charges.

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A Picton man whose home was seized by the courts over drugs charges says he has effectively lost his pension plan and daughter's inheritance.

The house, in Picton, will go to auction tomorrow.

Gary Tittleton, 67, was ordered to forfeit 50 per cent of the value of his Picton home, after he was convicted in 2009 for cultivating cannabis and possession of cannabis for supply.

Tittleton said he was upset about losing his home after he was sentenced, but now he was "over it".

"Don't get me wrong, I'm bloody pissed off, all for four marijuana plants," he said.

"You do the crime, you do the time, that's just the way it is, but compared to P dealers and gang members, to me it's bull sh.. ."

He would be lucky if he got more than $50,000 from the proceeds of the house, after he paid legal aid fees, rates and insurance, he said.

"It's cost me a bloody fortune," he said. "This is my daughter's inheritance, my pension plan."

The house had been on the market for the past three weeks. Tittleton discovered it was going to auction only when he was told by the real estate agent selling the house, he said.

Tittleton, who has remained in the house since his conviction, would be moving into a rental home in Picton on July 1, whether the house sold or not, he said.

Police found 1.64 kilograms of dried cannabis head and eight cannabis plants during a raid on Tittleton's Wellington St home in 2009. Cultivation and harvesting equipment was also found under his house.

The estimated street value of the cannabis was between $32,000 and $41,000.

In 2011, Tittleton was sentenced to forfeit 50 per cent of the value of his home, in the first time the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act 2009 had been used to seize a house in Marlborough.

The property was valued at $377,000 in January 2010. Two years later, it decreased to $332,000.

Tittleton, who owned the house outright and has lived there for 17 years, lost a High Court appeal in 2012 against the sentence.

Sergeant Kris Payne, of Picton, said it had been a long process, and he was glad it was finally over.

"It sends a clear message to criminals," he said.

"If you deal or grow drugs, you could lose your house."

The house is being sold by real estate company Bayleys on behalf of the Crown.

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- The Marlborough Express

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