A New Plymouth drug dealer with a highly sophisticated hydroponic cannabis operation in his home was only nabbed after losing the plot in a supermarket when he was refused beer.
Police knocked on his door at Frank Wilson Tce on August 30, 2012 only to discover the impressive growing set-up.
They also found a schoolboy busy manicuring the high quality heads ready for sale in Auckland.
The 17-year-old spilled the beans, telling how he was paid with cannabis to do the job.
The grower and dealer, sickness beneficiary Rickard Josef Spitzbart, 42, was yesterday sentenced in the New Plymouth District Court.
He had earlier admitted possessing and growing cannabis for supply, supplying cannabis to the under 18-year-old student, using his vehicle for drug dealing, wilful damage in the supermarket and stealing thousands of dollars of electricity.
Spitzbart had cannabis in all stages of maturity growing under six tents, the police summary reveals.
He had a generator on standby if the power failed and had bypassed the power meter so he could help himself to electricity.
CCTV cameras were installed to give him complete surveillance around his home.
Police only discovered the operation because they were following up on a complaint from the Countdown Supermarket on Courtenay St where ironically Spitzbart was himself caught on CCTV footage taking out his ire on casks of wine and cans of cream on August 8.
He became angry earlier that morning because the supermarket staff refused to sell him beer at 6.20am because their liquor licence only allowed the sales from 7am.
He returned at 7.15am to buy his beer. Using a knife, he punctured two casks of wine which then leaked onto the floor damaging 23 other casks. He also ripped open two cans of reduced cream.
The damage totalled $531.73.
In court, his lawyer Kylie Pascoe said Spitzbart's background was tortuous and grossly abusive leading him into alcohol and cannabis use.
Asking for home detention, she said he deserved credit for taking action after he was caught and was remorseful. He was now abstinent and drug free, she said.
He had paid back Mercury Energy $10,800 for the stolen electricity and offered Countdown $530 for the damage.
Judge Allan Roberts was impressed Spitzbart had paid for the electricity prior to sentencing - something he had never seen happen before.
The judge also gave Spitzbart full credit for his guilty plea accepting he had personal issues to deal with including depression.
Spitzbart was sentenced to 10 months home detention, 225 hours community work and disqualified from driving for 6 months. The gear and cannabis to be destroyed.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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