Dope crop was for sick wife

A MAN caught growing 469 marijuana plants on his South Kolan property narrowly escaped jail yesterday.

Vernon Mark Moffat, 49, of South Kolan, pleaded guilty in Bundaberg Supreme Court to producing cannabis and possessing equipment used in the commission of a crime.

Police raided Moffat’s property on November 25, 2009, where they found two marijuana crops with an irrigation system using poly pipe and a pump from a dam.

Crown Prosecutor Alex Cummings said the cultivated crop produced more than six kilograms of marijuana.

Defence barrister David Murray said his client grew the plants for his ill wife, who was suffering from cancer.

This raised the prosecutor’s eyebrows, who said he was sceptical the woman required almost 500 plants for pain relief.

“In my submission, there was at least a commercial tinge to this operation,” Mr Cummings said.

“There were two crops planted and police located a cardboard box with clip-seal bags and cannabis seeds inside, so this explanation doesn’t really gel with the reasoning that this is all for his wife.”

Mr Cummings said Moffat had spent time in jail for drug-related offences in 1999 when he was caught with 121 marijuana plants, 272 seedlings, a knapsack filled with marijuana and a set of scales at the same South Kolan property.

The defence said Moffat’s wife had “an enormous degree of physical suffering and emotional stress” and the defendant was trying to reduce this.

“The system was fairly uncomplicated,” Mr Murray said.

“Some plants were in rows but others seemed the seeds were just thrown in. Only some of the plants had a two-strand fence and some plants had been eaten down to the ground by animals.”

Justice Duncan McMeekin said he was surprised the defendant would put himself back in trouble.

“It’s remarkable you’ve exposed yourself to the system again,” he said. “I take it you didn’t enjoy your time in prison the first time.

“Usually the penalty increases when someone comes back before the courts.

“I have decided on balance you were not using this crop commercially but I must tell you, my decision came awfully close.”

Moffat was sentenced to an 18 month jail term with an operational period of three years.

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