Possum-trapper back in action

DAVID CLARKSON
Last updated 16:00 14/07/2014
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Lake Coleridge Village's resident possum-trapper will soon be back in action, keeping the high-country settlement free of pests.

He won't be using a rifle, though, because of police concerns about the amount of cannabis he has been using.

Lyndon Mark Armishaw, a 48-year-old sickness beneficiary, says he uses the cannabis to self-medicate because of back pain.

At his Christchurch District Court appearance today, defence counsel David Stringer handed the judge a copy of an X-ray showing Armishaw's lower spine fusion and the pins that have been inserted.

Armishaw admitted a charge of possession of a firearm without a licence, and of cultivating cannabis.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Dave Murray said police raided Armishaw's home at the village on May 17, and found a scoped .22 rifle in an unlocked cupboard, and 201 live rounds, including 10 in the detached magazine. Armishaw did not hold a firearms licence, the sergeant said.

In the same cupboard, police found a bag containing 428g of cannabis, and another four bags each containing 32g of dried cannabis head, and five blocks of cannabis hash material weighing 7g.

They also found 19 cannabis plans growing under lights in a bedroom cupboard.

Armishaw told police he was growing cannabis for medicinal purposes.

His lawyer today produced documents about Armishaw's permits to trap possums, and references that indicated he was well thought of at the village.

Stringer asked for the return of Armishaw's GPS, which he used to locate the trapping lines, and for his emergency locator beacon, which he carried for safety reasons.

Sergeant Murray said the police would have a problem with Armishaw being allowed a firearms licence because of the quantity of cannabis he was using.

Judge Jane Farish said she accepted Armishaw had legitimate use for a firearm, in killing possums caught in his traps. That was more humane, but also more expensive, than killing them by hand, she said.

His trapping activity was borne out by the letters, and the Lake Coleridge residents were quite grateful for his work keeping vermin and possum numbers down.

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She ordered him to complete 100 hours of community work, and ordered the destruction of the rifle, magazine, and ammunition, and the cannabis and growing equipment.

However, the judge also ordered the return of his GPS and emergency beacon so that his possum-trapping work can start again soon.

- The Press

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