Cannabis found in man's dog run

By Sandra Conchie

A Pongakawa man caught with 33 cannabis plants inside two growing rooms in a converted dog run on his lifestyle block told police he turned to growing dope because it was too dear to buy.

Steven Craig Bancroft, 49, manager, appeared in Tauranga District Court on Tuesday and pleaded guilty to a charge of cultivation of cannabis.

The charge stems from a police search of Bancroft's Maniatutu Rd lifestyle block on March 20.

The police summarysaid Bancroft had converted a dog run into two separate cannabis growing rooms powered via an extension lead which trailed through piping hidden along the side of a bush-covered bank, under the back lawn and into the house.

Inside the two growing rooms were a total of 33 plants - 12 seedlings 10cm high, three 20cm plants, 11 plants measuring 30cm and seven mature plants which were 40cm high.

The plants were growing under high powered lights connected to a timer which was set to operate 18 hours a day.

Also found inside one of the growing rooms were 46 separate cannabis branches laid out to dry which had been harvested from a larger plant.

Bancroft told police he smoked up to four to five cannabis cigarettes a day and had done so for an extended period of time, and had been buying between a half to a full ounce a week but it become too expensive to source so began growing his own.

He denied selling any of cannabis to anyone but smoked some of his harvest with friends.

Bancroft claimed the cannabis was for personal use, a claim Judge Thomas Ingram told him he rejected. The judge said Bancroft would have to give evidence from the dock to persuade him of that. Bancroft was remanded on bail for a pre-sentence report and sentencing on June 15.

Meanwhile, rigger Lance Elli Williams, 33, of Judea was sentenced to nine months supervision and 80 hours community work after pleading guilty to a charge of possession of cannabis for supply.

The charge relates to Williams being caught with 20 small packets of cannabis totalling just over 400 grams when police searched his then-Papamoa home on March 29.

Meanwhile, unemployed John Niwa, 33, of Pyes Pa, who admitted five cannabis-related charges, was sentenced to nine months supervision and 40 hours community work.

That is for two charges each of possession of cannabis plants and possession of drug utensils, and one charge of cultivating cannabis.

Niwa was caught with three potted cannabis plants, 128 grams of cannabis leaf material, 59 seeds and two glass pipes for smoking cannabis and methamphetamine when police searched his Pyes Pa Rd address on March 19.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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