Convicted cannabis grower gives $5000 donation to church
A 64-year-old man who grew cannabis for pain relief and supplied his friends has donated $5000 to the Salvation Army as part of his penalty.
Arthur Leslie Richardson brought a bank cheque made out to the church when he arrived for sentencing at Hawera District Court, after earlier pleading guilty to cultivating cannabis, possession of the class C drug for supply and possession of equipment to grow it.
Police who raided Richardson's Eltham home on December 22 found a supply of dried cannabis, along with 57 plants and a sophisticated set-up used to grow the drug, the court heard.
Richardson had told them he used cannabis as pain relief for shoulder and back injuries and also sold it to others to use for medicinal purposes.
On Tuesday, Richardson's lawyer Grant Vosseler said his client was offering the donation by way of a penalty, and the judge agreed.
"The police did not oppose the resolution of the offending by a substantial payment to the Salvation Army and neither do I," Judge Chris Sygrove said. "That money will be used in a very worthwhile way."
A letter from the Salvation Army said the money would be used in its community ministries supporting the elderly, providing food parcels and working with people who had addiction issues.
He also sentenced Richardson to 100 hours of community service on the charges.
Although the offending was a serious criminal activity, the judge said he accepted the cannabis was for the use of the defendant and friends. It was not a commercial operation and was not supplied to young people or on a wholesale basis.
"You have no previous convictions, anything of consequence is over 50 years ago, you are a first offender," the judge said.
"I accept your counsel's submission that it was not a large commercial operation. You were the main user of the cannabis and you consumed an eight gram bag in a day."
"With some help sir," added Vosseler.
The supplying cannabis charge carried a maximum prison sentence of eight years, cultivating charge was a maximum of seven years and possessing equipment for cultivating cannabis was a maximum of five years.
During the search of Richardson's Stanners St home in Eltham on December 22, a purpose-built secure area at the rear of the garage was found, which housed two separate cannabis grow rooms.
Along with 120 cannabis seedlings, 23 cannabis plants were found in one of the rooms. Ten of the plants were between 80-90 centimetres in height and the remaining 13 plants about 50cm high.
In the second grow room, police located a total of 34 cannabis plants, 19 of which were described as "budding".
The rooms had tailored lighting set up and were also decked out with fans, timers and thermometers.
Near the grow rooms, police also found 27 empty plastic pots with handles, and LED lights which were still in the packaging.
Police also seized 54 grams of dried cannabis head material which was found in two paper bags.
In the laundry of Richardson's home, a further six plastic zip lock bags were found by officers, each containing the class C drug.
Other stashes of cannabis were found hidden inside a TV cabinet in the dining area of the house.
All up, about 80 grams of cannabis were found.
A box of the plastic zip lock bags, digital scales and scissors used for "manicuring" the harvested cannabis were also located.
During a conversation with police, Richardson said he had started to grow cannabis as it was too expensive to buy.
He on sold the drug for between $50-$100, depending on the amount and said he used the profits to pay his power bill, which was high due to the expense incurred by running the grow rooms.