Grazier grew cannabis on cattle farm
A 56-YEAR-OLD man who farmed marijuana as well as cattle on his property south-west of Gin Gin has avoided spending time behind bars.
But in a bizarre twist, the court was told $5000 in cash disappeared during the police search of the farm earlier this year.
New Moonta man Michael Patrick McGuire pleaded guilty in Bundaberg District Court to using a 70m x 90m plot on his large rural property to grow 46 marijuana plants.
He was sentenced to two years jail but paroled immediately.
Crown prosecutor Katrina Overell said on March 22 police attended McGuire's house with an aerial photo of the property.
McGuire admitted he had $5000 in cash in his kitchen drawer when asked if he had any money to declare.
Ms Overell said initially police were unable to find the plot of land they identified in the photo and, after an hour of searching, asked McGuire to take them to the area, which he did.
"It was a 90m x 70m plot with 46 mature plants ranging from 1-2.5m tall; the plot had barbed wire around it," she said.
After police located the 50kg haul of marijuana plants, they asked McGuire to produce the cash back - but the defendant said he must have lost it. It was never recovered.
Defence barrister Michael Copley told the court McGuire explained the cash as "money put away for a holiday or a rainy day" and said it must have fallen out of his pocket while he helped police find the crop.
Mr Copley said his client was a serious cattle farmer who had smoked marijuana intermittently but admitted he grew the crop.
"He put it (the crop) behind barbed wired so his cattle wouldn't eat it and irrigated it so it would die," he said.
"It's not as though he bought the farm for growing drugs...he's a serious grazier.
"He's not some sort of hillbilly sitting out there growing drugs with no gainful employment."
Judge Leanne Clare SC said there was no evidence McGuire had harvested any plants and, while she accepted there was a commercial element, there was no evidence of a plan to sell them.