Butcher grew cannabis to 'aid family'

Last updated 13:04 22/01/2014

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An Oxford man's efforts to grow cannabis in a shed ended in flaming disaster due to a growing lamp that overheated.

The shed fire attended by the Fire Service led to police being called and Gerard James Forsyth being charged.

Forsyth, a 39-year-old butcher, today admitted a charge of cultivating cannabis at the property on Main St, Oxford, on November 25.

Police said they found the remains of cannabis plants in the shed, along with what was left of an irrigation system and growing lights. A nearby caravan had been converted to a potting shed, containing three plants used for cloning, and 384 seedlings.

The Fire Service believed the fire was caused by one of the lights overheating.

Forsyth admitted growing 12 cannabis plants in the shed "so he and his family could get ahead", police prosecutor Stephen Burdes told the sitting of the Rangiora District Court in Christchurch today.

Defence counsel Andrew McCormick said there was "more than meets the eye" to Forsyth's offending.

"The mitigation essentially relates to his wife who is chronically unwell and unable to work, and there is significant financial stress in his family. He has made a misguided decision to grow cannabis. He smokes it very recreationally."

McCormick said the sophistication of the operation was low, and Forsyth had no real idea how he was going to sell the cannabis he was growing.

Judge Jane Farish said she wanted the case remanded for a probation report and sentencing so that the defence could provide material on Forsyth's wife's health situation, and because of the frankness of his admissions.

"The starting point is a term of imprisonment about the two-year mark," said the judge, remanding Forsyth on bail for sentencing on March 14, for a pre-sentence report that will consider his suitability for home and community detention.

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