Judge refuses drug bust bail condition

By Michele Hunter

A Tauranga judge has refused to impose a bail condition on those charged after police raids of hydroponic retailers premises on Tuesday.
Judge Peter Rollo said ordering the accused to keep a register of their future sales,  was "excessive" and an "unnecessary intrusion" into the  public's personal affairs.
Police had sought the special condition which would have required those charged in the Western Bay to record all personal details of their customers, including photographic identification which could be available to police to  check that they had  made legitimate sales.
Judge  Rollo had already declined a police request on Tuesday in relation to one defendant despite some district court judges throughout the country imposing the condition on those arrested as part of the two-year nationwide undercover operation codenamed Operation Lime.
 In Tauranga District Court yesterday,
Switched on Gardener store manager Maree Sanders, 33, faced three charges of supplying materials, including a book titled Indoor Marijuana Horticulture, knowing it was to be used to cultivate the drug and two charges of supplying cannabis plant to persons over 18.
Sanders, of Bellevue, is also charged with one charge each of offering to sell a cannabis plant, cultivating cannabis and possession of cannabis for supply.
 GreenDay Hydroponics employee Brian Wood, 47, of Te Puna faced two charges of selling cannabis, five of supplying precursor equipment for cultivation and one each of cultivation and possession of the drug for supply.
Some of the charges are joint with others defendants who work at the same stores and were in court earlier this week.
Police prosecutor David Pawson argued that quite a few district court judges across the country had approved the condition and urged the judge to do like wise.

If refused, police may consider appealing the decision.
Wood's lawyer Craig Tuck and Glenn Dixon who represents Sanders both argued that the condition was an unreasonable limitation on their clients' rights to carry on with their employment and intruded on the rights of members of the public.
Judge Rollo agreed,
 saying the bail condition was "excessive" and "an unnecessary, and unusual intrusion into the personal affairs of members of the public".

 Sanders, who was further remanded on bail, will be back in court on May 18. Wood will be back in court on May 19.
Meanwhile, police have confirmed the amounts of cannabis found and money seized during Tuesday's raids. A total of 4.6kg of dried cannabis was seized by police, along with 209 cannabis plants and $950 cash.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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