Not-guilty plea to cannabis charge

Last updated 09:07 15/08/2013

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An Otautau man accused of possessing cannabis for sale pleaded not guilty at the start of his judge- alone trial in the Invercargill District Court yesterday.

The Crown alleges that John Darrell McGregor and Stuart Richard Birse had in their possession cannabis for sale between April 19 and May 6, 2011.

Birse, 40, pleaded guilty to the charge last year and was sentenced to nine months' home detention and 150 hours' community work.

But McGregor, 56, has denied the charge and is on trial before Judge Brian Callaghan this week.

Crown lawyer Riki Donnelly, in his opening address, said police had noticed the smell of cannabis at a Katrine St house in Otautau during routine enquiries on April 19, 2011. Police knocked at the door but no-one answered, he said.

Police returned to the house on May 3 and again smelt cannabis from the property, but again no- one was home, Mr Donnelly said.

Police returned to the property with a search warrant on May 6 and when no-one answered the door the police gained access into the house, he said.

Once inside, they removed a wardrobe from in front of a bedroom door and once inside the bedroom found six pounds of cannabis head drying on newspaper on top of a single bed, and a quantity of cannabis on each side of the bed, he said.

Also in the room was a backpack containing brown cannabis leaf and a prescription container for McGregor dated December 2010, Mr Donnelly said.

Numerous other items used for the cultivation of cannabis were also found at the address, Mr Donnelly said.

Police later executed a search warrant at McGregor's home address in Otautau and found a power bill for the Katrine St house where the cannabis had been found, Mr Donnelly said.

Rates demands for the Katrine St house - whose legal owner was listed as McGregor's daughter - had also been sent to McGregor's home address, Mr Donnelly said.

Evidence would be given at the trial that the rates payments were made by McGregor's partner, he added.

Defence lawyer Roger Eagles, in his opening address, said McGregor denied ever having possession of the cannabis found in the Katrine St house.

The suggestion of the payment of rates and electricity bills went "little distance" in establishing that McGregor had possession or control of the cannabis, Mr Eagles said.

The trial continues today.

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- The Southland Times

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